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Squash
Various sizes, shapes, and colors of Cucurbita
Cucurbita fruits come in an assortment of colors and sizes.
Scientific classification e
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Cucurbitales
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Tribe: Cucurbiteae
Genus: Cucurbita
L.
Synonyms[1]

Cucurbita (Latin for gourd)[3][4] is a genus of herbaceous vines in the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae (also known as cucurbits or cucurbi) native to the Andes and Mesoamerica. Five species are grown worldwide for their edible fruit, variously known as squash, pumpkin, or gourd, depending on species, variety, and local parlance,[a] and for their seeds. Other kinds of gourd, also called bottle-gourds, are native to Africa and belong to the genus Lagenaria, which is in the same family and subfamily as Cucurbita, but in a different tribe. These other gourds are used as utensils or vessels, and their young fruits are eaten much like those of Cucurbita species.

Most Cucurbita species are herbaceous vines that grow several meters in length and have tendrils, but non-vining "bush" cultivars of C. pepo and C. maxima have also been developed. The yellow or orange flowers on a Cucurbita plant are of two types: female and male. The female flowers produce the fruit and the male flowers produce pollen. Many North and Central American species are visited by specialist bee pollinators, but other insects with more general feeding habits, such as honey bees, also visit.

There is debate about the taxonomy of the genus, as the number of accepted species varies from 13 to 30. The five domesticated species are Cucurbita argyrosperma, C. ficifolia, C. maxima, C. moschata, and C. pepo. All of these can be treated as winter squash because the full-grown fruits can be stored for months; however, C. pepo includes some

Cucurbita (Latin for gourd)[3][4] is a genus of herbaceous vines in the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae (also known as cucurbits or cucurbi) native to the Andes and Mesoamerica. Five species are grown worldwide for their edible fruit, variously known as squash, pumpkin, or gourd, depending on species, variety, and local parlance,[a] and for their seeds. Other kinds of gourd, also called bottle-gourds, are native to Africa and belong to the genus Lagenaria, which is in the same family and subfamily as Cucurbita, but in a different tribe. These other gourds are used as utensils or vessels, and their young fruits are eaten much like those of Cucurbita species.

Most Cucurbita species are herbaceous vines that grow several meters in length and have tendrils, but non-vining "bush" cultivars of C. pepo and C. maxima have also been developed. The yellow or orange flowers on a Cucurbita plant are of two types: female and male. The female flowers produce the fruit and the male flowers produce pollen. Many North and Central American species are visited by specialist bee pollinators, but other insects with more general feeding habits, such as honey bees, also visit.

There is debate about the taxonomy of the genus, as the number of accepted species varies from 13 to 30. The five domesticated species are Cucurbita argyrosperma, C. ficifolia, C. maxima, C. moschata, and C. pepo. All of these can be treated as winter squash because the full-grown fruits can be stored for months; however, C. pepo includes some cultivars that are better used only as summer squash.

The fruits of the genus Cucurbita are good sources of nutrients, such as vitamin A and vitamin C, among other nutrients according to species. The fruits have many culinary uses including pumpkin pie, biscuits, bread, desserts, puddings, beverages, and soups.

17 mgManganesecarbohydrates, and 1% protein, with negligible fat content (table). In 100 grams, raw squash supplies 16 calories and is rich in vitamin C (20% of the Daily Value, DV), moderate in vitamin B6 and riboflavin (12–17% DV), but otherwise devoid of appreciable nutrient content (table), although the nutrient content of different Curcubita species may vary somewhat.[91]

Pumpkin seeds contain vitamin E, crude protein, B vitamins and several dietary minerals (see nutrition table at pepita).[92] Also present in pumpkin seeds are unsaturated and saturated oils, palmitic, oleic and linoleic fatty acids,[93] as well as carotenoids.[94]

Toxins

Cucurbitin is an amino acid and a carboxypyrrolidine that is found in raw Cucurbita seeds.[95][96] It retards the development of parasitic flukes when administered to infected host mice, although the effect is only seen if administration begins immediately after infection.[97]

Cucurmosin is a ribosome inactivating protein found in the flesh and seed of Cucurbita,[98][99] notably Cucurbita moschata. Cucurmosin is more toxic to cancer cells than healthy cells.[98][100]

Cucurbitacin is a plant steroid present in wild Cucurbita and in each member of the family Cucurbitaceae. Poisonous to mammals,[101] it is found in quantities sufficient to discourage herbivores. It makes wild Cucurbita and most ornamental gourds, with the exception of an occasional C. fraterna and C. sororia, bitter to taste.[3][62][102] Ingesting too much cucurbitacin can cause stomach cramps, diarrhea and even collapse.[85] This bitterness is especially prevalent in wild Cucurbita; in parts of Mexico the flesh of the fruits is rubbed on a woman's breast to wean children.[103] While the process of domestication has largely removed the bitterness from cultivated varieties,[3] there are occasional reports of cucurbitacin causing illness in humans.[3] Cucurbitacin is also used as a lure in insect traps.[102]

Pests and diseases

Cucurbita species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including the cabbage moth (Mamestra brassicae), Hypercompe indecisa, and the turnip moth (Agrotis segetum).[104] Cucurbita can be susceptible to the pest Bemisia argentifolii (silverleaf whitefly)[105] as well as aphids (Aphididae), cucumber beetles (Acalymma vittatum and Diabrotica undecimpunctata howardi), squash bug (Anasa tristis), the squash vine borer (Melittia cucurbitae), and the two-spotted spidermite (Tetranychus urticae).[106] The squash bug causes major damage to plants because of its very toxic saliva.[107] The red pumpkin beetle (Raphidopalpa foveicollis) is a serious pest of cucurbits, especially the pumpkin, which it can defoliate.[108] Cucurbits are susceptible to diseases such as bacterial wilt (Erwinia tracheiphila), anthracnose (Colletotrichum spp.), fusarium wilt (Fusarium spp.), phytophthora blight (Phytophthora spp. water molds), and powdery mildew (Erysiphe spp.).[106] Defensive responses to viral, fungal, and bacterial leaf pathogens do not involve cucurbitacin.[101]

Species in the genus Cucurbita are susceptible to some types of mosaic virus including: cucumber mosaic virus (CMV), papaya ringspot virus-cucurbit strain (PRSV), squash mosaic virus (SqMV), tobacco ringspot virus (TRSV),[109] watermelon mosaic virus (WMV), and zucchini yellow mosaic virus (ZYMV).[110][111][112][113] PRSV is the only one of these viruses that does not affect all cucurbits.[110][114] SqMV and CMV are the most common viruses among cucurbits.[115][116] Symptoms of these viruses show a high degree of similarity, which often results in laboratory investigation being needed to differentiate which one is affecting plants.[109]

Human culture<

Pumpkin seeds contain vitamin E, crude protein, B vitamins and several dietary minerals (see nutrition table at pepita).[92] Also present in pumpkin seeds are unsaturated and saturated oils, palmitic, oleic and linoleic fatty acids,[93] as well as carotenoids.[94]

Cucurbitin is an amino acid and a carboxypyrrolidine that is found in raw Cucurbita seeds.[95][96] It retards the development of parasitic flukes when administered to infected host mice, although the effect is only seen if administration begins immediately after infection.[97]

Cucurmosin is a ribosome inactivating protein found in the flesh and seed of Cucurbita,Cucurmosin is a ribosome inactivating protein found in the flesh and seed of Cucurbita,[98][99] notably Cucurbita moschata. Cucurmosin is more toxic to cancer cells than healthy cells.[98][100]

Cucurbitacin is a plant steroid present in wild Cucurbita and in each member of the family Cucurbitaceae. Poisonous to mammals,[101] it is found in quantities sufficient to discourage herbivores. It makes wild Cucurbita and most ornamental gourds, with the exception of an occasional C. fraterna and C. sororia, bitter to taste.[3][62][102] Ingesting too much cucurbitacin can cause stomach cramps, diarrhea and even collapse.[85] This bitterness is especially prevalent in wild Cucurbita; in parts of Mexico the flesh of the fruits is rubbed on a woman's breast to wean children.[103] While the process of domestication has largely removed the bitterness from cultivated varieties,[3] there are occasional reports of cucurbitacin causing illness in humans.[3] Cucurbitacin is also used as a lure in insect traps.[102]

Cucurbita species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including the cabbage moth (Mamestra brassicae), Hypercompe indecisa, and the turnip moth (Agrotis segetum).[104] Cucurbita can be susceptible to the pest Bemisia argentifolii (silverleaf whitefly)[105] as well as aphids (Aphididae), cucumber beetles (Acalymma vittatum and Diabrotica undecimpunctata howardi), squash bug (Anasa tristis), the squash vine borer (Melittia cucurbitae), and the two-spotted spidermite (Tetranychus urticae).[106] The squash bug causes major damage to plants because of its very toxic saliva.[107] The red pumpkin beetle (Raphidopalpa foveicollis) is a serious pest of cucurbits, especially the pumpkin, which it can defoliate.[108] Cucurbits are susceptible to diseases such as bacterial wilt (Erwinia tracheiphila), anthracnose (Colletotrichum spp.), fusarium wilt (Fusarium spp.), phytophthora blight (Phytophthora spp. water molds), and powdery mildew (Erysiphe spp.).[106] Defensive responses to viral, fungal, and bacterial leaf pathogens do not involve cucurbitacin.[101]

Species in the genus Cucurbita are susceptible to some types of mosaic virus including: cucumber mosaic virus (CMV), papaya rin

Species in the genus Cucurbita are susceptible to some types of mosaic virus including: cucumber mosaic virus (CMV), papaya ringspot virus-cucurbit strain (PRSV), squash mosaic virus (SqMV), tobacco ringspot virus (TRSV),[109] watermelon mosaic virus (WMV), and zucchini yellow mosaic virus (ZYMV).[110][111][112][113] PRSV is the only one of these viruses that does not affect all cucurbits.[110][114] SqMV and CMV are the most common viruses among cucurbits.[115][116] Symptoms of these viruses show a high degree of similarity, which often results in laboratory investigation being needed to differentiate which one is affecting plants.[109]

Long before European contact, Cucurbita had been a major food source for the native peoples of the Americas, and the species became an important food for European settlers, including the Pilgrims, even featuring at the first Thanksgiving.[12] Commercially produced pumpkin commonly used in pumpkin pie is most often varieties of C. moschata; Libby's, by far the largest producer of processed pumpkin, uses a proprietary strain of the Dickinson pumpkin variety of C. moschata for its canned pumpkin.[117] Other foods that can be made using members of this genus include biscuits, bread, cheesecake, desserts, donuts, granola, ice cream, lasagna dishes, pancakes, pudding, pumpkin butter,[118] salads, soups, and stuffing.[119] Squash soup is a dish in African cuisine.[120] The xerophytic species are proving useful in the search for nutritious foods that grow well in arid regions.[121] C. ficifolia is used to make soft and mildly alcoholic drinks.[9]

In India, squashes (ghia) are cooked with seafood such as prawns.[122] In France, marrows (courges) are traditionally served as a gratin, sieved and cooked with butter, milk, and egg, and flavored with salt, pepper, and nutmeg,[123] and as soups. In Italy, zucchini and larger squashes are served in a variety of regional dishes, such as cocuzze alla puviredda cooked with olive oil, salt and herb

In India, squashes (ghia) are cooked with seafood such as prawns.[122] In France, marrows (courges) are traditionally served as a gratin, sieved and cooked with butter, milk, and egg, and flavored with salt, pepper, and nutmeg,[123] and as soups. In Italy, zucchini and larger squashes are served in a variety of regional dishes, such as cocuzze alla puviredda cooked with olive oil, salt and herbs from Apulia; as torta di zucca from Liguria, or torta di zucca e riso from Emilia-Romagna, the squashes being made into a pie filling with butter, ricotta, parmesan, egg, and milk; and as a sauce for pasta in dishes like spaghetti alle zucchine from Sicily.[124] In Japan, squashes such as small C. moschata pumpkins (kabocha) are eaten boiled with sesame sauce, fried as a tempura dish, or made into balls with sweet potato and Japanese mountain yam.[125]

Along with maize and beans, squash has been depicted in the art work of the native peoples of the Americas for at least 2,000 years.[126][127] For example, cucurbits are often represented in Moche ceramics.[126][128]

Though native to the western hemisphere, Cucurbita began to spread to other parts of the world after Christopher Columbus's arrival in the New World in 1492.[129][130] Until recently, the earliest known depictions of this genus in Europe was of Cucurbita pepo in De Historia Stirpium Commentarii Insignes in 1542 by the German botanist Leonhart Fuchs, but in 1992, two paintings, one of C. pepo and one of C. maxima, painted between 1515 and 1518, were identified in festoons at Villa Farnesina in Rome.Christopher Columbus's arrival in the New World in 1492.[129][130] Until recently, the earliest known depictions of this genus in Europe was of Cucurbita pepo in De Historia Stirpium Commentarii Insignes in 1542 by the German botanist Leonhart Fuchs, but in 1992, two paintings, one of C. pepo and one of C. maxima, painted between 1515 and 1518, were identified in festoons at Villa Farnesina in Rome.[131] Also, in 2001 depictions of this genus were identified in Grandes Heures of Anne of Brittany (Les Grandes Heures d'Anne de Bretagne), a French devotional book, an illuminated manuscript created between 1503 and 1508. This book contains an illustration known as Quegourdes de turquie, which was identified by cucurbit specialists as C. pepo subsp. texana in 2006.[132]

In 1952, Stanley Smith Master, using the pen name Edrich Siebert, wrote "The Marrow Song (Oh what a beauty!)" to a tune in 6
8
time
. It became a popular hit in Australia in 1973,[133] and was revived by the Wurzels in Britain on their 2003 album Cutler of the West.[134][135] John Greenleaf Whittier wrote a poem entitled The Pumpkin in 1850.[136] "The Great Pumpkin" is a fictional holiday figure in the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz.[137]

C. foetidissima contains a saponin that can be obtained from the fruit and root. This can be used as a soap, shampoo, and bleach. Prolonged contact can cause skin irritation.[138][139] Pumpkin is also used in cosmetics.[140]

Folk remedies

Cucurbita have been used in various cultures as

Cucurbita have been used in various cultures as folk remedies. Pumpkins have been used by Native Americans to treat intestinal worms and urinary ailments. This Native American remedy was adopted by American doctors in the early nineteenth century as an anthelmintic for the expulsion of worms.[141] In southeastern Europe, seeds of C. pepo were used to treat irritable bladder and benign prostatic hyperplasia.[142] In Germany, pumpkin seed is approved for use by the Commission E, which assesses folk and herbal medicine, for irritated bladder conditions and micturition problems of prostatic hyperplasia stages 1 and 2, although the monograph published in 1985 noted a lack of pharmacological studies that could substantiate empirically found clinical activity.[143] The FDA in the United States, on the other hand, banned the sale of all such non-prescription drugs for the treatment of prostate enlargement in 1990.[144]

In China, C. moschata seeds were also used in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of the parasitic disease In China, C. moschata seeds were also used in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of the parasitic disease schistosomiasis[145] and for the expulsion of tape worms.[146]

In Mexico, herbalists use C. ficifolia in the belief that it reduces blood sugar levels.[147]

Cucurbita fruits including pumpkins and marrows are celebrated in festivals in countries such as Argentina, Austria,[148] Bolivia,[149] Britain, Canada,[150] Croatia,[151] France,[152][153] Germany, India, Italy,[154][155][156][157] Japan,[158] Peru,[159] Portugal, Spain,[160] Switzerland,[161] and the United States. Argentina holds an annual nationwide pumpkin festival Fiesta Nacional del Zapallo ("Squashes and Pumpkins National Festival"), in Ceres, Santa Fe,[162] on the last day of which a Reina Nacional del Zapallo ("National Queen of the Pumpkin") is chosen.[163][164][165] In Portugal the Festival da Abóbora de Lourinhã e Atalaia ("Squashes and Pumpkins Festival in Lourinhã and Atalaia") is held in Lourinhã city, called the Capital Nacional da Abóbora (the "National Capital of Squashes and Pumpkins").[166] Ludwigsburg, Germany annually hosts the world's largest pumpkin festival.[167] In Britain a giant marrow (zucchini) weighing 54.3177 kilograms (119.750 lb) was displayed in the Harrogate Autumn Flower Show in 2012.[168] In the US, pumpkin chucking is practiced competitively, with machines such as trebuchets and air cannons designed to throw intact pumpkins as far as possible.[169][170] The Keene Pumpkin Fest is held annually in New Hampshire; in 2013 it held the world record for the most jack-o-lanterns lit in one place, 30,581 on October 19, 2013.[171]

Halloween is widely celebrated with jack-o-lanterns made of large orange pumpkins carved with ghoulish faces and illuminated from inside with candles.[172] The pumpkins used for jack-o-lanterns are C. pepo,[173][174] not to be confused with the ones typically used for pumpkin pie in the United States, which are C. moschata.[117] Kew Gardens marked Halloween in 2013 with a display of pumpkins, including a towering pyramid made of many varieties of squash, in the Waterlily House during its "IncrEdibles" festival.[175]

See alsoHalloween is widely celebrated with jack-o-lanterns made of large orange pumpkins carved with ghoulish faces and illuminated from inside with candles.[172] The pumpkins used for jack-o-lanterns are C. pepo,[173][174] not to be confused with the ones typically used for pumpkin pie in the United States, which are C. moschata.[117] Kew Gardens marked Halloween in 2013 with a display of pumpkins, including a towering pyramid made of many varieties of squash, in the Waterlily House during its "IncrEdibles" festival.[175]