I was chatting with Steve earlier today about pumpkin season and he asked, “answer me this: is a pumpkin just a type of squash?”
Great question, Steve. Because I’m equal parts food-lover and research nerd, I decided to dig a little deeper into the root of this question.
So, what do the zucchini, acorn squash, and a jack o’ lantern have in common? Well, besides being big hard vegetables, they all come from the most badass genus (a.k.a mafia family) this side of the Atlantic: the Curcubita. The Curcubita genus is native to the Americas. When Columbus sailed the ocean blue, he was simultaneously sailing toward great squashdom. In fact, one blogger even goes so far as to say that the Curcubita family is the most economically important member of the gourd family. So not only are the gourds good to eat, they are also the richest, most blingin’ veggie in the garden.
This genus is influential and includes most of the well-known squashes including the pumpkin that you’ll soon be carving, cooking or chucking. But wait, there’s more. Not all pumpkins are the same, or even have the same scientific titles (a.k.a. rap names). All pumpkins are summer squashes and are either a Curcubita Maxima, Cucurbita mixta, a Cucurbita moschata or a Cucurbita pepo – the pepo being the cutest most easily pronounceable name – so I declare the C. pepo the winner. But, pepo, stay away from those nasty scab lesions…ugh. It’s the sexually transmitted disease of the garden beds.