In another thread a ref was given:
Wiki also says "In Australian English, the name 'pumpkin' generally
refers to the broader category called winter squash in North America."
I had heard that before but didn't want to confuse things even more.
it looks like I need to sort it out.
For the record I am in Australia and these are pumpkins in our
these be called winter squash or pumpkin in the US?
We don't have 'winter squash' by that name. To me a squash is a
cucurbit that is soft-skinned and picked immature, zucchini is a
squash but they come in other shapes and sizes, like button squash
(pattypan) and crookneck. The skin is green, yellow, near black or
orange. The flesh is usually pale greenish and translucent and they
don't keep very well outside refrigeration, they generally don't have
creases. I think you would call these summer squash. So let us leave
these aside for now.
To me a pumpkin is a cucurbit that is picked mature, has a hard skin
and keeps well outside refrigeration, the flesh is usually yellow to
orange and opaque. The skin is yellow, orange, grey, blue-grey or
some combination when ripe. They generally have creases running
longitudinally. Examples are Queensland blue and the above JAP (Just
So in the USA how do you distinguish pumpkins from winter squash? Is
pumpkin a subset of winter squash or are some pumpkins not also winter
Is there any correspondence between the different common names and the
species of cucurbit?
What about the Banter People, what is a pumpkin in Old Blighty?
Off the top of my head- I'd call them squash. In general our
pumpkins are rounder. Usually orange- but that barrier has been
shattered with white, red, and permanently green ones.
We even have an 'Australian Blue Pumpkin' - that I'd call a squash if
I didn't have the seed packet handy. [it's a Queensland Blue]
OTOH- Atlantic Giant 'pumpkins'- all the record breaking ones we see-
are developed from a Hubbard Squash. It's a weird dance we do with
I think you've got that just right.
In general, pumpkins are a subset. [IMO] The exception I noted
above is a Hubbard Squash that somehow gets named a pumpkin.
I thought I'd get some help here;
not so much--
"The name squash is often interchanged with that of pumpkin. Most
varieties that are called pumpkin bear orange fruit, have very long
vines, and have stems that are firmer, more rigid, and squarer than
those of other squashes.
The most common pumpkins are varieties of Cucurbita pepo.
The large-fruited pumpkins, weighing up to 400 lb, belong to the
species Cucurbita maxima. "
So some are Cucurbita Pepo, which makes them more closely related to
summer squash. And some are maxima- though they might be referring
to the Atlantic Giants here, though a 400 pound one would be a real
dissapointment to most growers.
We probably eat most of the pie pumpkins we plant- small, sweet
things. But I'd bet that as many pumpkins are grown with the
intention of being Halloween decorations. Or- in the case of the
record breakers- as a curiosity. [and if you get a 600pounder or so,
you can sell the seeds for a few bucks each.]
In article ,
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"
I don't understand 90% of that- but I think Billy nailed it.
I'm surprised that I can't find a site with all [or even a few] the
subspecies of cucurbita listed with their proper names.
The 2 Steve listed are a Cucurbita maxima, and Cucurbita mixta, but
C.m. -- ?what?- Linnaeus went through all that trouble to
categorize stuff, and now we're too busy trying to call something what
people will buy and not enough keeping them in their proper place so
all of us folks who speak different languages [USAian, Australian,
English, etc] can understand each other.
BTW- The 'Blue Australian Pumpkin' is listed as a Morcheta- so that's
3 categories of Cucurbita represented so far. [the cushaw is known as
a pumpkin in some places-- so mixta is spoken for too, sort of]
Can't answer your general question but I've grown pumpkins and butternut
squash. I once made a pumpkin pie from butternut squash that was
indistinguishable in taste from a pumpkin pie. Apparently the spices
overwhelm the taste of either type squash.
Those would be called winter squash in the US, and look to be a
variety of Cucurbita moschata, which species is more commonly
grown in differently shaped (long necked) cultivars known as butternut
Two things first:
"Summer" and "winter" squash are varities differentiated by when they
are picked to be used. Summer squash are picked and used when
immature and winter squash are picked as mature fruit.
All "pumpkins" are winter squash, but not all winter squash would be
called pumpkins in USA vernacular. Usually what we call a pumpkin is
a winter squash of the species C. pepo thats rounded and orange with
a large seed cavity. But that name is also extended other winter squashes
of the same shape and color.
C. pepo pumpkins:
's get specific. There are four species of squash that I am familiar
with and I have grown cultivars of all of them at one time or another.
I. Cucurbita pepo or pepper squashes.
All of the cultivars grown as summer squash (with very few exceptions)
are in the species C. pepo. Crookneck, zucchini, pattypan, what have
you, they are selected to be eaten while very immature.
This species also includes a number of winter squashes. Orange jack-o'-
lantern and pie pumpkins, acorn squash, delicata and sweet dumpling.
There are also a few colorful, hard-shelled ornamental gourds that are
in this species.
The fruit stems of C. pepo squashes (when mature) are extremely hard
and angular and flare outward at the fruit. The blossom scars are usually
small and smooth.
C. pepo squashes are very susceptible to squash vine borer.
II. Cucurbita maxima
This species, as the specific epithet suggests, provides the biggest of the
winter squashes. Giant pumpkins, hubbard, banana, buttercup and the
Australian Jarrahdale are all C. maxima squashes.
The stems on C. maxima squashes are rounded and somewhat corky
looking and the blossom end might have a small protruding button.
C. maxima squashes are extremely susceptible to squash vine borer.
Certain varieties of C. maxima squash (most particularly those of the
buttercup sort) are known for their high dry matter content and
superb eating quality.
III. Cucurbita moschata
This species is mostly known for the long necked butternut type, but
there are tan- or buckskin-colored rounded varieties that are refered to
as pumpkins or "cheese" types and a few dark green (or "black")
The mature stems are extremely hard and angular and flare out at the
fruit. The blossom scars are smooth. When mature, these may be green
with tan spots or streaks, but most typically C. moshata squashes ripen
to a tan or light brown color.
C. moschata is resistant to squash vine borers.
C. moschata squashes are very often grown for processing into canned
pumpkin in the northern US.
IIII. Cucurbit mixta
C. mixta is a also known as the cushaw or neck pumpkin. They generally
have a long, curved neck with a round bulge at the blossom end.
The stem on a mature cushaw is very hard and angular and flare at the
base. The blossom scar is small and smooth.
C. mixta is resistant to squash vine borers.
Cushaws are very popular as processing varieties in the southern US.
They have a long growing season and a great tolerance for hot weather.
I have managed to grow cushaws in my garden, and they are extremely
beautiful squashes. The variety I grew was white with streaks and
splotches of gold, orange, and green.
Now, my favorite winter squash is a hybrid named "Tetsukabuto" which
is a interspecies cross between C. moschata and C. maxima. It has
the resistance to squash vine borers of C. moshata parent and the
high dry matter content and sweetness of the finest C. maxima squashes.
and have a look at their squash/pumpkin section.
They have the largest selection of specimens for sale that I've ever seen.
The cucurbit group crossbreeds very easily. There are hundreds of different
"pumpkins" because the "squashes were one of the earliest vegetables
domesticated. In the book "Lost Crops of the Inca" evidence of "crooknecks"
was noted as far back as 3000BC.
I apologize, David, I was being a bit facetious. We truly are peoples
divided by a common language.
"cucurbita pepo L." and the 'L' stand for Linnaeus?
But somehow, from there I ended up here- where I did a search for
pumpkin & voila!
've got 9 listed. All Cucurbitaceae, and all but one is a
Cucurbita. The outlier is Benincasa hispida , which among its other
common names "White Pumpkin" [I think I've heard of it as Ash gourd &
The others listed are [Cucurbita] foetidissima, lundelliana, maxima,
moscheta, and pepo. The pepo is the only one that gives a variety
name. [and it happens to be melopepo, which is zuchini, which they say
has the common name of bush pumpkin. Can't say I've ever heard
Well-- I'm learning a lot of interesting stuff, here, but I don't
think I'm any closer to understanding why we call the things we do,
:-))) I've been sitting back chuckling. I knew when you asked the question
what a can of worms you were opening after seeing the responses to the same
question in the thread I mentioned earlier which I saw in another ng.
LOL. We're all gardeners here so we all should know that colour and shape
has very little to do with what we call this variety.
David, I'd suggest that you get hold of the 2 seed saving books; the US
"Seed to Seed" and the Australian one "The Seedsavers handbook" and read
what they have to say.
Not that either of those books are particularly illuminating - in fact they
just confirm what I've decided and that is to call it whatever you choose.
The US one says "'all pumpkins are squash. Pumpkins are not even a
'subspecies' (group)". This book says - Hubbards are C. maxima, the Cushaws
are C. mixta (although I notice that one called the Golden Cushaw is
supposed to be a C. moschata), butternuts are C. moschata, crooknecks are C.
pepo (as are zucchini).
The Australian one says 'pumpkin and squash are interchangeable terms,
depending on what country you live in.'
After you've read these books, you'll realise that calling the plants one
thing or another is just a matter of national habit.
You may find this site interesting (or not):
In the US those are squash. We use the word pumpkin for a very specific
member of the squash family. It's large, orange and mostly used as jack-o-
lanterns on Halloween, I would bet that only a small percentage of
pumpkins are actually eaten.
are also used as projectiles for air cannons and Trebuchets,