A pumpkin is a cultivar of a squash plant, most commonly of Cucurbita
pepo, that is round, with smooth, slightly ribbed skin, and deep
yellow to orange coloration. The thick shell contains the seeds and
pulp. Some exceptionally large cultivars of squash with similar
appearance have also been derived from
Specific cultivars of winter squash derived from other species,
including C. argyrosperma, and C. moschata, are also sometimes called
New Zealand and Australian English, the term pumpkin generally
refers to the broader category called winter squash elsewhere.
Native to North America, pumpkins are widely grown for commercial
use and are used both in food and recreation.
Pumpkin pie, for
instance, is a traditional part of
Thanksgiving meals in
the United States, and pumpkins are frequently carved as
jack-o'-lanterns for decoration around Halloween, although
commercially canned pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie fillings are usually
made from different kinds of winter squash than the ones used for
1 Etymology and terminology
4.1 In the United States
4.2 Giant pumpkins
Pumpkin seed oil
6.4 Other uses
Pumpkin festivals and competitions
7.4 Folklore and fiction
8 See also
10 Further reading
11 External links
Etymology and terminology
The word pumpkin originates from the word pepon (πέπων), which is
Greek for "large melon", something round and large. The French
adapted this word to pompon, which the British changed to pumpion and
to the later American colonists became known as pumpkin.
The term pumpkin has no agreed upon botanical or scientific
meaning, and is used interchangeably with "squash" and "winter
squash" in some areas. In many areas, including
North America and the
United Kingdom, pumpkin traditionally refers to only certain round,
orange varieties of winter squash, predominantly derived from
Cucurbita pepo, while in Australian English, pumpkin can refer to
winter squash of any appearance.
A pumpkin flower attached to the vine
Pumpkins, like other squash, are thought to have originated in North
America. The oldest evidence, pumpkin-related seeds dating between
7000 and 5500 BC, was found in Mexico.
Since some squash share the same botanical classifications as
pumpkins, the names are frequently used interchangeably. One
often-used botanical classification relies on the characteristics of
the stems: pumpkin stems are more rigid, prickly, and angular (with an
approximate five-degree angle) than squash stems, which are generally
softer, more rounded, and more flared where joined to the fruit.
Pumpkin fruits are a type of botanical berry known as a pepo.
Male (top) and female (bottom) pumpkin flowers
Traditional C. pepo pumpkins generally weigh between 3 and 8 kilograms
(6 and 18 lb), though the largest cultivars (of the species C.
maxima) regularly reach weights of over 34 kg (75 lb).
The color of pumpkins derives from orange carotenoid pigments,
including beta-cryptoxanthin, alpha and beta carotene, all of which
are provitamin A compounds converted to vitamin A in the body.
All pumpkins are winter squash: mature fruit of certain species in the
genus Cucurbita. Characteristics commonly used to define "pumpkin"
include smooth and slightly ribbed skin, and deep yellow to
orange color. Circa 2005, white pumpkins had become increasingly
popular in the United States. Other colors, including dark green
(as with some oilseed pumpkins), also exist.
Pumpkins are grown all around the world for a variety of reasons
ranging from agricultural purposes (such as animal feed) to commercial
and ornamental sales. Of the seven continents, only
unable to produce pumpkins; the biggest international producers of
pumpkins include the United States, Canada, Mexico, India, and
China. The traditional American pumpkin used for
jack-o-lanterns is the Connecticut Field variety.
In the United States
A pumpkin patch in Winchester, Oregon
As one of the most popular crops in the United States, 680,000,000
kilograms (1.5 billion pounds) of pumpkins are produced each
year. The top pumpkin-producing states include Illinois, Indiana,
Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California.
According to the
Illinois Department of Agriculture, 95% of the U.S.
crop intended for processing is grown in Illinois. Nestlé,
operating under the brand name Libby's, produces 85% of the processed
pumpkin in the United States, at their plant in Morton, Illinois. In
the fall of 2009, rain in
Illinois devastated the
resulting in a shortage affecting the entire country during the
Thanksgiving holiday season.
Pumpkins are a warm-weather crop that is usually planted in early
July. The specific conditions necessary for growing pumpkins require
that soil temperatures 8 centimetres (3 in) deep are at least
15.5 °C (60 °F) and soil that holds water well. Pumpkin
crops may suffer if there is a lack of water or because of cold
temperatures (in this case, below 18 °C or 65 °F; frost
can be detrimental), and sandy soil with poor water retention or
poorly drained soils that become waterlogged after heavy rain.
Pumpkins are, however, rather hardy, and even if many leaves and
portions of the vine are removed or damaged, the plant can very
quickly re-grow secondary vines to replace what was removed.
Pumpkins produce both a male and female flower; honeybees play a
significant role in fertilization. Pumpkins have historically been
pollinated by the native squash bee Peponapis pruinosa, but this bee
has declined, probably at least in part to pesticide (imidacloprid)
sensitivity, and today most commercial plantings are pollinated by
honeybees. One hive per acre (4,000 m2 per hive, or 5 hives per 2
hectares) is recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. If
there are inadequate bees for pollination, gardeners often have to
hand pollinate. Inadequately pollinated pumpkins usually start growing
but abort before full development.
Giant pumpkins at a "heaviest pumpkin" competition
"Giant pumpkins" are a large squash (within the group of common squash
Cucurbita maxima) that can exceed 1 tonne in weight. The
variety arose from the large squash of South America through the
efforts of botanical societies and enthusiast farmers.
Pumpkin festivals and competitions below.
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
109 kJ (26 kcal)
Vitamin A equiv.
Pantothenic acid (B5)
Full Link to USDA Database entry
μg = micrograms • mg = milligrams
IU = International units
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for
In a 100-gram amount, raw pumpkin provides 110 kilojoules (26
kilocalories) of food energy and is an excellent source (20% or more
the Daily Value, DV) of provitamin A beta-carotene and vitamin A (53%
Vitamin C is present in moderate content (11% DV), but no
other nutrients are in significant amounts (less than 10% DV, table).
Pumpkin is 92% water, 6.5% carbohydrate, 0.1% fat and 1% protein
Pumpkin pie is a popular way of preparing pumpkin.
Pumpkins are very versatile in their uses for cooking. Most parts of
the pumpkin are edible, including the fleshy shell, the seeds, the
leaves, and even the flowers. In the
United States and Canada, pumpkin
is a popular
Pumpkin purée is
sometimes prepared and frozen for later use.
A can of pureed pumpkin, typically used as the main ingredient in
When ripe, the pumpkin can be boiled, steamed, or roasted. In its
native North America, it is a very important, traditional part of the
autumn harvest, eaten mashed and making its way into soups and
purees. Often, it is made into pie, various kinds of which are a
traditional staple of the Canadian and American
In Canada, Mexico, the United States,
Europe and China, the seeds are
often roasted and eaten as a snack.
Pumpkins that are still small and green may be eaten in the same way
as squash or zucchini. In the Middle East, pumpkin is used for sweet
dishes; a well-known sweet delicacy is called halawa yaqtin. In South
Asian countries such as India, pumpkin is cooked with butter, sugar,
and spices in a dish called kadu ka halwa.
Pumpkin is used to make
sambar in Udupi cuisine. In
Guangxi province, China, the leaves of the
pumpkin plant are consumed as a cooked vegetable or in soups. In
Australia and New Zealand, pumpkin is often roasted in conjunction
with other vegetables. In Japan, small pumpkins are served in savory
dishes, including tempura. In Myanmar, pumpkins are used in both
cooking and desserts (candied). The seeds are a popular sunflower seed
substitute. In Thailand, small pumpkins are steamed with custard
inside and served as a dessert. In Vietnam, pumpkins are commonly
cooked in soups with pork or shrimp. In Italy, it can be used with
cheeses as a savory stuffing for ravioli. Also, pumpkin can be used to
flavor both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages.
In the southwestern
United States and Mexico, pumpkin and squash
flowers are a popular and widely available food item. They may be used
to garnish dishes, and they may be dredged in a batter then fried in
Pumpkin leaves are a popular vegetable in the Western and central
regions of Kenya; they are called seveve, and are an ingredient of
mukimo, respectively, whereas the pumpkin itself is usually boiled
or steamed. The seeds are popular with children who roast them on a
pan before eating them.
Pumpkin leaves are also eaten in Zambia, where
they are called chibwabwa and are boiled and cooked with groundnut
paste as a side dish.
Other than the traditionally defined pumpkin, commercially canned
"pumpkin" puree and pumpkin pie fillings may contain other winter
squashes, such as butternut squash.
Pumpkin leaf kimchi
Pumpkin leaves, usually of C. moschata varieties, are eaten as a
vegetable in Korean cuisine.
Salted pumpkin seeds
Main article: Pepita
Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are edible and nutrient-rich.
They are about 1.5 cm (0.5 in) long, flat, asymmetrically
oval, light green in color and usually covered by a white husk,
although some pumpkin varieties produce seeds without them. Pumpkin
seeds are a popular snack that can be found hulled or semi-hulled at
most grocery stores. Per ounce serving, pumpkin seeds are a good
source of protein, magnesium, copper and zinc.
Pumpkin seed oil
Pumpkin seed oil
Pumpkin seed oil, a thick oil pressed from roasted pumpkin seeds,
appears red or green in color depending on the oil layer thickness,
container properties and hue shift of the observer's vision.
When used for cooking or as a salad dressing, pumpkin seed oil is
generally mixed with other oils because of its robust flavor. Used
in cooking in central and eastern Europe, it is considered a delicacy
in traditional local cuisines such as for pumpkin soup, potato salad
or even vanilla ice cream.
Pumpkin seed oil
Pumpkin seed oil contains
fatty acids, such as oleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid.
Canned pumpkin is often recommended by veterinarians as a dietary
supplement for dogs and cats that are experiencing certain digestive
ailments such as constipation, diarrhea, or hairballs. The high fiber
content aids proper digestion.
Raw pumpkin can be fed to poultry, as a supplement to regular feed,
during the winter to help maintain egg production, which usually drops
off during the cold months.
Pumpkins have been used as folk medicine by Native Americans to treat
intestinal worms and urinary ailments, and this Native American remedy
was adopted by American doctors in the early nineteenth century as an
anthelmintic for the expulsion of worms.[qualify evidence] In
Germany and southeastern Europe, seeds of C. pepo were also used as
folk remedies to treat irritable bladder and benign prostatic
hyperplasia.[qualify evidence] In China, C. moschata seeds
were also used in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of
the parasitic disease schistosomiasis and for the expulsion of
tape worms.[qualify evidence] Chinese studies have found that a
combination of pumpkin seed and areca nut extracts was effective in
the expulsion of Taenia spp. tapeworms in over 89% of
A pumpkin carved into a jack-o'-lantern for Halloween
Pumpkins are commonly carved into decorative lanterns called
jack-o'-lanterns for the
Halloween season in North America. Throughout
Britain and Ireland, there is a long tradition of carving lanterns
from vegetables, particularly the turnip, mangelwurzel, or
swede. The practice of carving pumpkins for Halloween
originated from an Irish myth about a man named "Stingy Jack". The
turnip has traditionally been used in Ireland and Scotland at
Halloween, but immigrants to
North America used the native
pumpkin, which are both readily available and much larger –
making them easier to carve than turnips. Not until 1837, does
jack-o'-lantern appear as a term for a carved vegetable lantern,
and the carved pumpkin lantern association with
Halloween is recorded
In the United States, the carved pumpkin was first associated with the
harvest season in general, long before it became an emblem of
Halloween. In 1900, an article on
recommended a lit jack-o'-lantern as part of the festivities that
encourage kids and families to join together to make their own
Association of pumpkins with harvest time and pumpkin pie at Canadian
Thanksgiving reinforce its iconic role.
this association into marketing with its pumpkin spice latte,
introduced in 2003. This has led to a notable trend in pumpkin and
spice flavored food products in North America. This is despite the
fact that North Americans rarely buy whole pumpkins to eat other than
when carving jack-o'-lanterns.
Sarah Frey is called
Pumpkin Queen of America" and sells around five million pumpkins
annually, predominantly for use as lanterns.
Pumpkin chunking is a competitive activity in which teams build
various mechanical devices designed to throw a pumpkin as far as
possible. Catapults, trebuchets, ballistas and air cannons are the
most common mechanisms. Some pumpkin chunkers breed and grow special
varieties of pumpkin under specialized conditions to improve the
pumpkin's chances of surviving a throw.
Pumpkin festivals and competitions
Giant pumpkins cultivated for size competitions
"Giant pumpkins" are orange variants of the giant squash, Cucurbita
maxima. Growers of these "pumpkins" often compete to see whose
pumpkins are the most massive.
Festivals are often dedicated to the
pumpkin and these competitions.
The record for the world's heaviest pumpkin, 1,190.5 kg
(2,624.6 lb), was established in
Belgium in 2016.
In the United States, the town of Half Moon Bay, California, holds an
annual Art and
Pumpkin Festival, including the World Champion Pumpkin
Folklore and fiction
There is a strong connection in folklore and popular culture between
pumpkins and the supernatural. Famous examples include the following:
A commonplace motif of people being turned into pumpkins by witches.
The jack-o-lantern custom discussed above, which connects to Halloween
lore about warding off demons.
In the folk tale Cinderella, the fairy godmother turns a pumpkin into
a carriage, but at midnight it reverts to a pumpkin.
This article appears to contain trivial, minor, or unrelated
references to popular culture. Please reorganize this content to
explain the subject's impact on popular culture rather than simply
listing appearances; add references to reliable sources if possible.
Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (February 2018)
Linus' belief in the
Great Pumpkin in Charles M. Schulz's comic strip
Juice from a pumpkin has magical effects in the short story "Pumpkin
Juice" by R. L. Stine.
Harry Potter novels, pumpkin juice, a favorite drink of the
students of Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, is a
The pumpkin hurled by the "Headless Horseman" in Washington Irving's
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
Jack Pumpkinhead, a character in the Oz books of L. Frank Baum, with a
pumpkin for a head on a wooden body, brought to life in the second
In Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, the main character,
Jack Skellington, is "the
Precious Ramotswe, the fictional detective from
Botswana in The No. 1
Ladies' Detective Agency series of novels by Scottish author Alexander
McCall Smith, often cooks and eats pumpkin.
In a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne,
Feathertop from 1852, a witch
turns a scarecrow with a "pumpkinhead" into a man.
Spider-Man villains the
Green Goblin and Hobgoblin use small,
handheld "pumpkin bombs" as a signature weapon.
List of culinary fruits
List of pumpkin varieties grown in the United States
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"gourd", "cushaw", "ayote", "zapallo", "calabaza", etc. are often
applied indiscriminately to different cultivated species of the New
Cucurbita L. (Cucurbitaceae): C. pepo L., C.
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merry-makings, and perambulated the streets after dark in a way [that]
was no doubt amusing to themselves. There was a great sacrifice of
pumpkins from which to make transparent heads and face, lighted up by
the unfailing two inches of tallow candle.
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