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National Pumpkin Month

Weighing in at 1,140 pounds is the largest pumpkin ever grown.  But was it a pumpkin or a squash? 

Pumpkins, squash, gourds, cucumbers and melons all belong to the same family (Cucurbitacea).  What most people consider the “true” pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo) has bright orange skin and a hard, woody and furrowed stem.  This group also includes gourds, and summer squash

The huge record-breaking pumpkins belong to another group (Cucurbita maxima species) often called pumpkin-squash or squash type pumpkins.  These “pumpkins”, have more yellow than orange skins and their stems are soft and spongy without ridges or a swelling next to the fruit. Atlantic Giant is the most common variety found in the giant pumpkin contests. This group also includes banana, buttercup, turban and most winter squash. 

Whatever you call it, the flowers, flesh and seeds of pumpkins are edible.

A bit more information: The third common group (Cucurbita moschata) has oblong, more tan than orange skin with a deeply ridged stem that is enlarged next to the fruit. One member of this group is used for much of the canned pumpkin in the U.S. Other members include winter crookneck and butternut squash.

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