Pumpkin
Overview
A pumpkin is a gourd
Gourd
A gourd is a plant of the family Cucurbitaceae. Gourd is occasionally used to describe crops like cucumbers, squash, luffas, and melons. The term 'gourd' however, can more specifically, refer to the plants of the two Cucurbitaceae genera Lagenaria and Cucurbita or also to their hollow dried out shell...

-like squash of the genus Cucurbita
Cucurbita
Cucurbita is a genus in the gourd family Cucurbitaceae first cultivated in Mesoamerica and now used in many parts of the world. It includes species grown for their fruit and edible seeds , as well as some species grown only as gourds...

and the family Cucurbitaceae
Cucurbitaceae
The plant family Cucurbitaceae consists of various squashes, melons, and gourds, including crops such as cucumber, pumpkins, luffas, and watermelons...

 (which also includes gourds). It commonly refers to cultivar
Cultivar
A cultivar'Cultivar has two meanings as explained under Formal definition. When used in reference to a taxon, the word does not apply to an individual plant but to all those plants sharing the unique characteristics that define the cultivar. is a plant or group of plants selected for desirable...

s of any one of the species Cucurbita pepo
Cucurbita pepo
The species Cucurbita pepo is a cultivated plant of the genus Cucurbita. It includes varieties of squash, gourd, and pumpkin.*Acorn squash*Delicata squash*Dodi marrow, grown in South Asia*Gem squash*Heart of gold squash*Pattypan squash...

, Cucurbita mixta
Cucurbita mixta
Cucurbita mixta aka pipian is a species of squash, sometimes known as the cushaw pumpkin. C. mixta is one of the common varieties of pumpkin cultivated in the United States. The plant's adaptation to warm climates and resistance to squash borers make it very competitive in the agricultural industry...

, Cucurbita maxima
Cucurbita maxima
Cucurbita maxima, one of at least five species of cultivated squash, is one of the most diverse domesticated species, perhaps with more cultivated forms than any other crop. This species originated in South America from the wild C. maxima ssp. andreana over 4000 years ago...

, and Cucurbita moschata
Cucurbita moschata
Cucurbita moschata is a species originating in either Central America or northern South America. It includes varieties of squash and pumpkin. C. moschata varieties are generally more tolerant of hot, humid weather than C. maxima or C. pepo. They also generally display a greater...

, and is native to North America. They typically have a thick, orange or yellow shell, creased from the stem to the bottom, containing the seeds and pulp.

In Australian English
Australian English
Australian English is the name given to the group of dialects spoken in Australia that form a major variety of the English language....

, the name 'pumpkin' generally refers to the broader category called winter squash
Winter squash
Winter squash is a summer-growing annual vegetable, representing several species within the genus Cucurbita. It differs from summer squash in that it is harvested and eaten in the mature fruit stage, when the seeds within have matured fully and the skin has hardened into a tough rind. At this...

 in North America.
The word pumpkin originates from the word pepon (πέπων), which is Greek for “large melon".
Encyclopedia
A pumpkin is a gourd
Gourd
A gourd is a plant of the family Cucurbitaceae. Gourd is occasionally used to describe crops like cucumbers, squash, luffas, and melons. The term 'gourd' however, can more specifically, refer to the plants of the two Cucurbitaceae genera Lagenaria and Cucurbita or also to their hollow dried out shell...

-like squash of the genus Cucurbita
Cucurbita
Cucurbita is a genus in the gourd family Cucurbitaceae first cultivated in Mesoamerica and now used in many parts of the world. It includes species grown for their fruit and edible seeds , as well as some species grown only as gourds...

and the family Cucurbitaceae
Cucurbitaceae
The plant family Cucurbitaceae consists of various squashes, melons, and gourds, including crops such as cucumber, pumpkins, luffas, and watermelons...

 (which also includes gourds). It commonly refers to cultivar
Cultivar
A cultivar'Cultivar has two meanings as explained under Formal definition. When used in reference to a taxon, the word does not apply to an individual plant but to all those plants sharing the unique characteristics that define the cultivar. is a plant or group of plants selected for desirable...

s of any one of the species Cucurbita pepo
Cucurbita pepo
The species Cucurbita pepo is a cultivated plant of the genus Cucurbita. It includes varieties of squash, gourd, and pumpkin.*Acorn squash*Delicata squash*Dodi marrow, grown in South Asia*Gem squash*Heart of gold squash*Pattypan squash...

, Cucurbita mixta
Cucurbita mixta
Cucurbita mixta aka pipian is a species of squash, sometimes known as the cushaw pumpkin. C. mixta is one of the common varieties of pumpkin cultivated in the United States. The plant's adaptation to warm climates and resistance to squash borers make it very competitive in the agricultural industry...

, Cucurbita maxima
Cucurbita maxima
Cucurbita maxima, one of at least five species of cultivated squash, is one of the most diverse domesticated species, perhaps with more cultivated forms than any other crop. This species originated in South America from the wild C. maxima ssp. andreana over 4000 years ago...

, and Cucurbita moschata
Cucurbita moschata
Cucurbita moschata is a species originating in either Central America or northern South America. It includes varieties of squash and pumpkin. C. moschata varieties are generally more tolerant of hot, humid weather than C. maxima or C. pepo. They also generally display a greater...

, and is native to North America. They typically have a thick, orange or yellow shell, creased from the stem to the bottom, containing the seeds and pulp.

In Australian English
Australian English
Australian English is the name given to the group of dialects spoken in Australia that form a major variety of the English language....

, the name 'pumpkin' generally refers to the broader category called winter squash
Winter squash
Winter squash is a summer-growing annual vegetable, representing several species within the genus Cucurbita. It differs from summer squash in that it is harvested and eaten in the mature fruit stage, when the seeds within have matured fully and the skin has hardened into a tough rind. At this...

 in North America.

Description

The word pumpkin originates from the word pepon (πέπων), which is Greek for “large melon". The French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 adapted this word to pompon, which the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 changed to pumpion and later American colonists changed that to the word we use today, "pumpkin".
The origin of pumpkins is not definitively known, although they are thought to have originated in North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

. The oldest evidence, pumpkin-related seeds dating between 7000 and 5500 BC, were found in Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

.
Pumpkins are a squash-like fruit that range in size from less than 1 pound (0.45 kilograms) to over 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms).

Since some squash share the same botanical classifications as pumpkins, the names are frequently used interchangeably. In general, 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.

Pumpkins generally weigh 9–18 lbs
Pound (mass)
The pound or pound-mass is a unit of mass used in the Imperial, United States customary and other systems of measurement...

 (4–8 kg
Kilogram
The kilogram or kilogramme , also known as the kilo, is the base unit of mass in the International System of Units and is defined as being equal to the mass of the International Prototype Kilogram , which is almost exactly equal to the mass of one liter of water...

) with the largest (of the species C. maxima) capable of reaching a weight of over 75 lbs (34 kg). The pumpkin varies greatly in shape, ranging from oblate to oblong. The rind is smooth and usually lightly ribbed.
Although pumpkins are usually orange or yellow, some fruits are dark green, pale green, orange-yellow, white, red and gray.

Pumpkins are monoecious, having both male and female flowers on the same plant. The female flower is distinguished by the small ovary at the base of the petals. These bright and colorful flowers have extremely short life spans and may only open for as short a time as one day. The color of pumpkins is derived from the orange pigments abundant in them. The main nutrients are lutein
Lutein
Lutein is a xanthophyll and one of 600 known naturally occurring carotenoids. Lutein is synthesized only by plants and like other xanthophylls is found in high quantities in green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale...

 and both alpha and beta carotene, the latter of which generates vitamin A
Vitamin A
Vitamin A is a vitamin that is needed by the retina of the eye in the form of a specific metabolite, the light-absorbing molecule retinal, that is necessary for both low-light and color vision...

 in the body.

Taxonomy

Pumpkin is the fruit of the species Cucurbita pepo
Cucurbita pepo
The species Cucurbita pepo is a cultivated plant of the genus Cucurbita. It includes varieties of squash, gourd, and pumpkin.*Acorn squash*Delicata squash*Dodi marrow, grown in South Asia*Gem squash*Heart of gold squash*Pattypan squash...

or Cucurbita mixta
Cucurbita mixta
Cucurbita mixta aka pipian is a species of squash, sometimes known as the cushaw pumpkin. C. mixta is one of the common varieties of pumpkin cultivated in the United States. The plant's adaptation to warm climates and resistance to squash borers make it very competitive in the agricultural industry...

. It can refer to a specific variety of the species Cucurbita maxima
Cucurbita maxima
Cucurbita maxima, one of at least five species of cultivated squash, is one of the most diverse domesticated species, perhaps with more cultivated forms than any other crop. This species originated in South America from the wild C. maxima ssp. andreana over 4000 years ago...

or Cucurbita moschata
Cucurbita moschata
Cucurbita moschata is a species originating in either Central America or northern South America. It includes varieties of squash and pumpkin. C. moschata varieties are generally more tolerant of hot, humid weather than C. maxima or C. pepo. They also generally display a greater...

, which are all of the genus Cucurbita
Cucurbita
Cucurbita is a genus in the gourd family Cucurbitaceae first cultivated in Mesoamerica and now used in many parts of the world. It includes species grown for their fruit and edible seeds , as well as some species grown only as gourds...

and the family Cucurbitaceae
Cucurbitaceae
The plant family Cucurbitaceae consists of various squashes, melons, and gourds, including crops such as cucumber, pumpkins, luffas, and watermelons...

.

Distribution and habitation

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 Antarctica is unable to produce pumpkins; the biggest international producers of pumpkins include the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, and China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. The traditional American pumpkin is the Connecticut Field variety.

Cultivation in the US

As one of the most popular crops in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, 1.5 billion pounds (680,000,000 kilograms) of pumpkins are produced each year. The top pumpkin-producing states in the U.S. include Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

, Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

, and California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

. According to the Illinois Department of Agriculture, 95% of the U.S. crop intended for processing is grown in Illinois. Nestlé
Nestlé
Nestlé S.A. is the world's largest food and nutrition company. Founded and headquartered in Vevey, Switzerland, Nestlé originated in a 1905 merger of the Anglo-Swiss Milk Company, established in 1867 by brothers George Page and Charles Page, and Farine Lactée Henri Nestlé, founded in 1866 by Henri...

 produces 85% of the processed pumpkin in the U.S. In the fall of 2009, rain in Illinois devastated the Nestlé crop, resulting in a shortage affecting the entire country during the Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving (United States)
Thanksgiving, or Thanksgiving Day, is a holiday celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November. It has officially been an annual tradition since 1863, when, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving to be celebrated on Thursday,...

 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 three inches (7.62 cm) deep are at least 60 °F
Fahrenheit
Fahrenheit is the temperature scale proposed in 1724 by, and named after, the German physicist Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit . Within this scale, the freezing of water into ice is defined at 32 degrees, while the boiling point of water is defined to be 212 degrees...

 (15.5 °C) 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 65 °F (18.3 °C); 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
Pollination
Pollination is the process by which pollen is transferred in plants, thereby enabling fertilisation and sexual reproduction. Pollen grains transport the male gametes to where the female gamete are contained within the carpel; in gymnosperms the pollen is directly applied to the ovule itself...

 by the native squash bee
Squash bee
The name Squash bee is applied to two related genera of bees in the tribe Eucerini; Peponapis and Xenoglossa. Both genera are oligoleges on the plant genus Cucurbita and closely related plants...

 Peponapis pruinosa, but this bee has declined
Pollinator decline
The term pollinator decline refers to the reduction in abundance of pollinators in many ecosystems worldwide during the end of the twentieth century....

, probably due to pesticide
Pesticide
Pesticides are substances or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest.A pesticide may be a chemical unicycle, biological agent , antimicrobial, disinfectant or device used against any pest...

 sensitivity, and today most commercial plantings are pollinated by honeybees. One hive per acre (4,000 m² per hive) is recommended by the United States of America (US) Department of Agriculture. If there are inadequate bees for pollination, gardeners often have to hand pollinate
Hand pollination
Hand pollination is a technique used when natural, or open pollination is insufficient or undesirable. The most common techniques are for crops such as cucurbits, which may exhibit poor pollination by fruit abortion, fruit deformity or poor maturation...

. Inadequately pollinated pumpkins usually start growing but abort before full development. An opportunistic fungus
Fungus
A fungus is a member of a large group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds , as well as the more familiar mushrooms. These organisms are classified as a kingdom, Fungi, which is separate from plants, animals, and bacteria...

 is also sometimes blamed for abortions.

Giant pumpkins

The largest pumpkins are Cucurbita maxima. They were cultivated from the hubbard squash genotype, crossed with kabocha
Kabocha
Kabocha is a Japanese variety of winter squash. The word kabocha has come to mean a general type of winter squash to many English-speaking growers and buyers. In some cultures it is revered as an aphrodisiac....

-pumpkin types by enthusiast farmers through intermittent effort since the early 19th century. As such germplasm is commercially provocative, a U.S. legal right was granted for the rounder phenotypes, levying them as constituting a variety, with the appellation Atlantic Giant
Atlantic Giant
Atlantic Giant is the common name for a pumpkin variety bred publicly to produce huge fruit. More precisely, it refers to the round phenotypes of the giant squash variety of the species Cucurbita maxima, bred from simple Hubbard squash material....

. Eventually, this phenotype graduated back into the public domain, except now it had the name Atlantic Giant on its record (see USDA PVP # 8500204).

Weigh-off competitions for giant pumpkins are a popular festival activity. The world record held at 460 pounds (208.65 kilograms) until 1981, when Howard Dill (of Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia is one of Canada's three Maritime provinces and is the most populous province in Atlantic Canada. The name of the province is Latin for "New Scotland," but "Nova Scotia" is the recognized, English-language name of the province. The provincial capital is Halifax. Nova Scotia is the...

) broke the record with a pumpkin near 500 pounds (226.80 kilograms). Dill patented the seeds used to grow this giant pumpkin, deeming them Dill’s Atlantic Giant seeds, and drawing growers from around the world. Dill is credited for all of the giant pumpkins today, most of which are borne from crossing and re-crossing his patented seed with other varieties. By 1994, the Giant pumpkin crossed the 1,000-pound (453.59-kilogram) mark. The current world record holder is Chris Stevens's 1,810-pound Atlantic Giant pumpkin, which in October 2010 surpassed Christy Harp's previous 2009 record of 1,725 pounds.

Cooking

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 Halloween
Halloween
Hallowe'en , also known as Halloween or All Hallows' Eve, is a yearly holiday observed around the world on October 31, the night before All Saints' Day...

 and Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving Day is a holiday celebrated primarily in the United States and Canada. Thanksgiving is celebrated each year on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States. In Canada, Thanksgiving falls on the same day as Columbus Day in the...

 staple. Homemade pumpkin purée can serve the same purpose.

When ripe, the pumpkin can be boiled, baked, steamed, or roasted. In its native North America, it is a very important, traditional part of the autumn harvest, eaten mashed
Mashed pumpkin
Mashed pumpkin is a vegetable dish made by cooking or macerating the skinless flesh of pumpkins and then mashing, straining, grinding, or puréeing until the desired consistency is achieved. It is traditionally served as a side dish, although it has many uses in cooking and baking.-History:The...

 and making its way into soups and purees. Often, it is made into pie
Pumpkin pie
Pumpkin pie is a traditional sweet dessert, often eaten during the fall and early winter, especially for Thanksgiving and Christmas in the United States and Canada. The pumpkin is a symbol of harvest time and featured also at Halloween....

, various kinds of which are a traditional staple of the Canadian and American Thanksgiving holidays. In Canada, Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, the U.S., 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
Squash (fruit)
Squashes generally refer to four species of the genus Cucurbita, also called marrows depending on variety or the nationality of the speaker...

 or zucchini
Zucchini
The zucchini is a summer squash which often grows to nearly a meter in length, but which is usually harvested at half that size or less. It is a hybrid of the cucumber. Along with certain other squashes, it belongs to the species Cucurbita pepo. Zucchini can be dark or light green...

. In the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

, pumpkin is used for sweet dishes; a well-known sweet delicacy is called halawa yaqtin. In South Asian countries such as India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, pumpkin is cooked with butter, sugar, and spices in a dish called kadu ka halwa. Pumpkin is used to make sambar in Udupi cuisine
Udupi cuisine
Udupi cuisine is a world-renowned cuisine of South India. It forms an important part of the Cuisine of Karnataka and takes its name from Udupi, a town on the southwest coast of India in the state of Karnataka. The Udupi cuisine has its origin in the Ashta mathas of Udupi founded by...

. In Guangxi
Guangxi
Guangxi, formerly romanized Kwangsi, is a province of southern China along its border with Vietnam. In 1958, it became the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China, a region with special privileges created specifically for the Zhuang people.Guangxi's location, in...

 province, China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, the leaves of the pumpkin plant are consumed as a cooked vegetable or in soups. In Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 and New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, pumpkin is often roasted in conjunction with other vegetables. In Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, small pumpkins are served in savory dishes, including tempura
Tempura
], is a Japanese dish of seafood or vegetables that have been battered and deep fried.-Batter:A light batter is made of cold water and soft wheat flour . Eggs, baking soda or baking powder, starch, oil, and/or spices may also be added...

. In Myanmar
Myanmar
Burma , officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar , is a country in Southeast Asia. Burma is bordered by China on the northeast, Laos on the east, Thailand on the southeast, Bangladesh on the west, India on the northwest, the Bay of Bengal to the southwest, and the Andaman Sea on the south....

, pumpkins are used in both cooking and desserts (candied). The seeds are a popular sunflower seed substitute. In Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, small pumpkins are steamed with custard inside and served as a dessert
Dessert
In cultures around the world, dessert is a course that typically comes at the end of a meal, usually consisting of sweet food. The word comes from the French language as dessert and this from Old French desservir, "to clear the table" and "to serve." Common Western desserts include cakes, biscuits,...

. In Italy, it can be used with cheeses as a savory stuffing for ravioli
Ravioli
Ravioli are a traditional type of Italian filled pasta. They are composed of a filling sealed between two layers of thin egg pasta dough and are served either in broth or with a pasta sauce. The word ravioli is reminiscent of the Italian verb riavvolgere , though the two words are not...

. Also, pumpkin can be used to flavor both alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages.

In the southwestern United States
Southwestern United States
The Southwestern United States is a region defined in different ways by different sources. Broad definitions include nearly a quarter of the United States, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah...

 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 oil. Pumpkin leaves are a popular vegetable in the Western and central regions of Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

; 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.

Extract

East China Normal University
East China Normal University
East China Normal University , was founded in October 1951 in western Shanghai, on the campus of Great China University. It is the first Normal University founded after the establishment of the People's Republic of China.-History:...

 research on type-1 diabetic
Diabetes mellitus type 1
Diabetes mellitus type 1 is a form of diabetes mellitus that results from autoimmune destruction of insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. The subsequent lack of insulin leads to increased blood and urine glucose...

 rats
Brown Rat
The brown rat, common rat, sewer rat, Hanover rat, Norway rat, Brown Norway rat, Norwegian rat, or wharf rat is one of the best known and most common rats....

, published in July 2007, suggests that chemical compounds found in pumpkin promote regeneration of damaged pancreatic cells, resulting in increased bloodstream insulin
Insulin
Insulin is a hormone central to regulating carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body. Insulin causes cells in the liver, muscle, and fat tissue to take up glucose from the blood, storing it as glycogen in the liver and muscle....

 levels. According to the research team leader, pumpkin extract may be "a very good product for pre-diabetic people, as well as those who already have diabetes," possibly reducing or eliminating the need for insulin injections for some type-1 diabetics. It is unknown whether pumpkin extract has any effect on diabetes mellitus type 2
Diabetes mellitus type 2
Diabetes mellitus type 2formerly non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus or adult-onset diabetesis a metabolic disorder that is characterized by high blood glucose in the context of insulin resistance and relative insulin deficiency. Diabetes is often initially managed by increasing exercise and...

, as it was not the subject of the study.

Seeds

Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are small, flat, green, edible seeds. Most pumpkin seeds are 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. However, roasting pumpkin seeds (usually scooped out of jack-o-lanterns) is a popular Halloween
Halloween
Hallowe'en , also known as Halloween or All Hallows' Eve, is a yearly holiday observed around the world on October 31, the night before All Saints' Day...

 treat. Pumpkin seeds have many health benefits, as they are a good source of protein
Protein
Proteins are biochemical compounds consisting of one or more polypeptides typically folded into a globular or fibrous form, facilitating a biological function. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds between the carboxyl and amino groups of...

, zinc
Zinc
Zinc , or spelter , is a metallic chemical element; it has the symbol Zn and atomic number 30. It is the first element in group 12 of the periodic table. Zinc is, in some respects, chemically similar to magnesium, because its ion is of similar size and its only common oxidation state is +2...

, and other vitamins, and they are even said to lower cholesterol
Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a complex isoprenoid. Specifically, it is a waxy steroid of fat that is produced in the liver or intestines. It is used to produce hormones and cell membranes and is transported in the blood plasma of all mammals. It is an essential structural component of mammalian cell membranes...

. One gram of pumpkin seed protein contains as much tryptophan
Tryptophan
Tryptophan is one of the 20 standard amino acids, as well as an essential amino acid in the human diet. It is encoded in the standard genetic code as the codon UGG...

 as a full glass of milk. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of magnesium
Magnesium
Magnesium is a chemical element with the symbol Mg, atomic number 12, and common oxidation number +2. It is an alkaline earth metal and the eighth most abundant element in the Earth's crust and ninth in the known universe as a whole...

, manganese
Manganese
Manganese is a chemical element, designated by the symbol Mn. It has the atomic number 25. It is found as a free element in nature , and in many minerals...

, phosphorus
Phosphorus
Phosphorus is the chemical element that has the symbol P and atomic number 15. A multivalent nonmetal of the nitrogen group, phosphorus as a mineral is almost always present in its maximally oxidized state, as inorganic phosphate rocks...

, and phytosterols.

Pumpkin seed oil

Pumpkin seed oil
Pumpkin seed oil
Pumpkin seed oil , a culinary specialty of south eastern Austria , eastern Slovenia , north western Croatia Pumpkin seed oil (Kernöl or Kürbiskernöl in German, bučno olje in Slovenian, bučino ulje or bundevino ulje in Croatian, and tökmag-olaj in Hungarian), a culinary specialty of south eastern...

is a thick, green-red oil that is produced from roasted pumpkin seeds. When used for cooking or as a salad dressing, pumpkin seed oil is generally mixed with other oils because of its robust flavor. It is used in cooking in central and eastern Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. It is considered a delicacy in Austria, where a little is often added in traditional local cuisine on pumpkin soup and on potato salad. In some restaurants in Vienna, they propose even to add a few drops on vanilla ice cream. Long believed to be a folk remedy for prostate
Prostate
The prostate is a compound tubuloalveolar exocrine gland of the male reproductive system in most mammals....

 problems, it has been claimed to combat benign prostatic hyperplasia
Benign prostatic hyperplasia
Benign prostatic hyperplasia also known as benign prostatic hypertrophy , benign enlargement of the prostate , and adenofibromyomatous hyperplasia, refers to the increase in size of the prostate....

. Pumpkin seed oil contains essential fatty acid
Fatty acid
In chemistry, especially biochemistry, a fatty acid is a carboxylic acid with a long unbranched aliphatic tail , which is either saturated or unsaturated. Most naturally occurring fatty acids have a chain of an even number of carbon atoms, from 4 to 28. Fatty acids are usually derived from...

s that help maintain healthy blood vessels, nerves and tissues.

Other uses

Canned pumpkin is often recommended by veterinarians as a dietary supplement for dogs and cats that are experiencing certain digestive ailments such as constipation
Constipation
Constipation refers to bowel movements that are infrequent or hard to pass. Constipation is a common cause of painful defecation...

, diarrhea
Diarrhea
Diarrhea , also spelled diarrhoea, is the condition of having three or more loose or liquid bowel movements per day. It is a common cause of death in developing countries and the second most common cause of infant deaths worldwide. The loss of fluids through diarrhea can cause dehydration and...

, or hairball
Hairball
A hairball is a small collection of hair or fur formed in the stomach of animals that is occasionally vomited up when it becomes too big. Hairballs are primarily a tight elongated cylinder of packed fur, but may include bits of other elements such as swallowed food. Cats are especially prone to...

s. The high fiber content helps to aid 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.

The medicinal properties of pumpkin include anti-diabetic, antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-inflammatory.

Halloween

Pumpkins are commonly carved into decorative lanterns called jack-o'-lantern
Jack-o'-lantern
A jack-o'-lantern is typically a carved pumpkin. It is associated chiefly with the holiday of Halloween and was named after the phenomenon of strange light flickering over peat bogs, called ignis fatuus or jack-o'-lantern...

s for the Halloween
Halloween
Hallowe'en , also known as Halloween or All Hallows' Eve, is a yearly holiday observed around the world on October 31, the night before All Saints' Day...

 season in North America. Throughout Britain and Ireland, there is a long tradition of carving lanterns from vegetables, particularly the turnip
Turnip
The turnip or white turnip is a root vegetable commonly grown in temperate climates worldwide for its white, bulbous taproot. Small, tender varieties are grown for human consumption, while larger varieties are grown as feed for livestock...

, mangelwurzel
Mangelwurzel
Mangelwurzel or mangold wurzel , also called mangold, mangel beet, field beet and fodder beet, is a cultivated root vegetable derived from Beta vulgaris...

, or swede
Rutabaga
The rutabaga, swede , turnip or yellow turnip is a root vegetable that originated as a cross between the cabbage and the turnip; see Triangle of U...

. 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 1866.

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 Thanksgiving entertaining recommended a lit jack-o'-lantern as part of the festivities that encourage kids and families to join together to make their own jack-o-lanterns.

Chucking

Pumpkin chucking is a competitive activity in which teams build various mechanical devices designed to throw a pumpkin as far as possible. Catapult
Catapult
A catapult is a device used to throw or hurl a projectile a great distance without the aid of explosive devices—particularly various types of ancient and medieval siege engines. Although the catapult has been used since ancient times, it has proven to be one of the most effective mechanisms during...

s, trebuchet
Trebuchet
A trebuchet is a siege engine that was employed in the Middle Ages. It is sometimes called a "counterweight trebuchet" or "counterpoise trebuchet" in order to distinguish it from an earlier weapon that has come to be called the "traction trebuchet", the original version with pulling men instead of...

s, ballista
Ballista
The ballista , plural ballistae, was an ancient missile weapon which launched a large projectile at a distant target....

s and air cannons
Air blaster
An air blaster or air cannon is a de-clogging device composed of two main elements: a pressure vessel and a Triggering mechanism...

 are the most common mechanisms. Some pumpkin chuckers breed and grow special varieties of pumpkin under specialized conditions to improve the pumpkin's chances of surviving a throw.

Pumpkin festivals and competitions

Pumpkin growers often compete to see whose pumpkins are the most massive. Festivals are often dedicated to the pumpkin and these competitions.

The Ohio towns of Barnesville
Barnesville, Ohio
Barnesville is a village in Belmont County, Ohio, United States. It is part of the Wheeling, West Virginia Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 4,225 at the 2000 census...

 and Circleville
Circleville, Ohio
Circleville is a city in and the county seat of Pickaway County, Ohio, United States, along the Scioto River. The population was 13,485 at the 2000 census.-History:...

 each hold a festival every year, the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival
Barnesville Pumpkin Festival
The Barnesville Pumpkin Festival is an annual festival in Barnesville, Ohio, dedicated to the growing and harvesting of pumpkins and other fall harvests. The festival, which has been held since 1964, is conducted by a locally appointed committee and attracts an average of 100,000 people during the...

 and the Circleville Pumpkin Show
Circleville Pumpkin Show
The Circleville Pumpkin Show is an annual festival held in Circleville, Ohio. The festival, which is held to celebrate local agriculture, is headed up by the Circleville Pumpkin Show Corporation. Considered to be the biggest festival dedicated to pumpkins in the United States, it is billed as The...

 respectively. The town of Half Moon Bay, California
Half Moon Bay, California
Half Moon Bay is a coastal city in San Mateo County, California, USA. Its population was 11,324 as of the 2010 census. Immediately at the north of Half Moon Bay is the Pillar Point Harbor and the unincorporated community of Princeton-by-the-Sea....

, holds an annual Art and Pumpkin Festival
Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival
The Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival is an annual festival held in the coastside community of Half Moon Bay, California for one weekend during pumpkin harvest season. It is one of the oldest and largest local festivals in California...

, drawing over 250,000 visitors each year and including the World Champion Pumpkin Weigh-Off. Farmers from all over the US compete to determine who can grow the heaviest pumpkin. The winning pumpkin regularly tops the scale at more than 1500 pounds. Leonardo Urena, from Napa, California
Napa, California
-History:The name Napa was probably derived from the name given to a southern Nappan village whose people shared the area with elk, deer, grizzlies and cougars for many centuries, according to Napa historian Kami Santiago. At the time of the first recorded exploration into Napa Valley in 1823, the...

, grew the winner of the 2011 Weigh-Off with a 1,704-pound Atlantic Giant, setting a new California State record. The world record pumpkin in 2009 was 1725 pounds, grown by Cristy Harp of Ohio.

The town of Morton, Illinois
Morton, Illinois
Morton is a village in Tazewell County, Illinois, USA, known for its pumpkins and annual Pumpkin Festival. The population was 15,198 at the 2000 census. Morton, the home of a Caterpillar distribution facility and a Libby's pumpkin plant, is part of the Peoria, Illinois Metropolitan Statistical...

, the self-declared pumpkin capital of the world, has held a Pumpkin Festival since 1966. The town, where Nestlé
Nestlé
Nestlé S.A. is the world's largest food and nutrition company. Founded and headquartered in Vevey, Switzerland, Nestlé originated in a 1905 merger of the Anglo-Swiss Milk Company, established in 1867 by brothers George Page and Charles Page, and Farine Lactée Henri Nestlé, founded in 1866 by Henri...

's pumpkin packing plant is located (and where 90% of canned pumpkins eaten in the US are processed), held for several years a record for the number of carved and lit pumpkins in one place, before losing it to Boston, Massachusetts, in 2006. A large contributor of pumpkins to the Keene
Keene, New Hampshire
Keene is a city in Cheshire County, New Hampshire, United States. The population was 23,409 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Cheshire County.Keene is home to Keene State College and Antioch University New England, and hosts the annual Pumpkin Fest...

 Pumpkin Fest
Pumpkin Fest
The Keene Pumpkin Festival is a yearly celebration held in Keene, New Hampshire, United States around Halloween...

 in New Hampshire is local Keene State College
Keene State College
Keene State College is a liberal arts college in Keene, New Hampshire. It is a member of the University System of New Hampshire and of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges....

, which hosts an event called Pumpkin Lobotomy
Lobotomy
Lobotomy "; τομή – tomē: "cut/slice") is a neurosurgical procedure, a form of psychosurgery, also known as a leukotomy or leucotomy . It consists of cutting the connections to and from the prefrontal cortex, the anterior part of the frontal lobes of the brain...

 on its main quadrangle. Usually held the day before the festival itself, Pumpkin Lobotomy has the air of a large party, with the school providing pumpkins and carving instruments alike (though some students prefer to use their own) and music provided by college radio station WKNH.

Ireland's only Pumpkin Festival takes place each year in Virginia, County Cavan
Virginia, County Cavan
Virginia is a small town of 3,939 inhabitants in County Cavan, Ireland. It was founded at Aghanure during the Plantation of Ulster and was named Virginia after Queen Elizabeth I of England....

 to find Ireland's biggest pumpkins. This year the biggest pumpkin topped 1300 pounds. The event takes place over a holiday weekend, along with other entertainment and festive parades.

The city of Elk Grove, California
Elk Grove, California
Elk Grove is a city in Sacramento County, California, located just south of the state capital of Sacramento. It is part of the Sacramento–Arden-Arcade–Roseville Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city is 153,015...

, has held an annual Pumpkin Festival since 1995.

Folklore and fiction

There seems to be a strong connection in folklore and popular culture between pumpkins and the supernatural. Famous examples include the following:

Folklore

  • 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.

Fiction

  • In the folk tale Cinderella
    Cinderella
    "Cinderella; or, The Little Glass Slipper" is a folk tale embodying a myth-element of unjust oppression/triumphant reward. Thousands of variants are known throughout the world. The title character is a young woman living in unfortunate circumstances that are suddenly changed to remarkable fortune...

    , the fairy godmother turns a pumpkin into a carriage, but at midnight it reverts back into a pumpkin.
  • Linus' belief in the Great Pumpkin in Charles M. Schulz
    Charles M. Schulz
    Charles Monroe "Sparky" Schulz was an American cartoonist, whose comic strip Peanuts proved one of the most popular and influential in the history of the medium, and is still widely reprinted on a daily basis.-Early life and education:Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Schulz grew up in Saint Paul...

    's comic strip Peanuts
    Peanuts
    Peanuts is a syndicated daily and Sunday American comic strip written and illustrated by Charles M. Schulz, which ran from October 2, 1950, to February 13, 2000, continuing in reruns afterward...

    .
  • Juice from a pumpkin has magical effects in the short story "Pumpkin Juice" by R. L. Stine
    R. L. Stine
    Robert Lawrence Stine , known as R. L. Stine, and Jovial Bob Stine, is an American writer. Stine, who is called the "Stephen King of children's literature," is the author of hundreds of horror fiction novels, including the books in the Fear Street, Goosebumps, Rotten School, Mostly Ghostly, and The...

    .
  • The Harry Potter
    Harry Potter
    Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels written by the British author J. K. Rowling. The books chronicle the adventures of the adolescent wizard Harry Potter and his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry...

    novels, in which pumpkin juice as a favorite drink of the students of Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is a recurring element
  • The pumpkin hurled by the "Headless Horseman
    Headless Horseman
    The headless horseman has been a motif of European folklore since at least the Middle ages.The Headless Horseman is a fictional character who appears in a short story called “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” which is in a collection of The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon written by Washington Irving...

    " in Washington Irving
    Washington Irving
    Washington Irving was an American author, essayist, biographer and historian of the early 19th century. He was best known for his short stories "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle", both of which appear in his book The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. His historical works...

    's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
    The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
    "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" is a short story by Washington Irving contained in his collection The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., written while he was living in Birmingham, England, and first published in 1820...

  • Jack Pumpkinhead
    Jack Pumpkinhead
    Jack Pumpkinhead is a fictional character from the Oz book series by L. Frank Baum.-In Baum:Jack first appeared in The Marvelous Land of Oz. Jack's tall figure is made from tree limbs and jointed with wooden pegs...

    , a character in the Oz
    The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
    The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a children's novel written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W. W. Denslow. Originally published by the George M. Hill Company in Chicago on May 17, 1900, it has since been reprinted numerous times, most often under the name The Wizard of Oz, which is the name of...

     books of L. Frank Baum
    L. Frank Baum
    Lyman Frank Baum was an American author of children's books, best known for writing The Wonderful Wizard of Oz...

    , with a pumpkin for a head on a wooden body, brought to life in the second book
  • In Tim Burton
    Tim Burton
    Timothy William "Tim" Burton is an American film director, film producer, writer and artist. He is famous for dark, quirky-themed movies such as Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Ed Wood, Sleepy Hollow, Corpse Bride and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet...

    's The Nightmare Before Christmas
    The Nightmare Before Christmas
    The Nightmare Before Christmas, often promoted as Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, is a 1993 stop motion musical fantasy film directed by Henry Selick and produced/co-written by Tim Burton. It tells the story of Jack Skellington, a being from "Halloween Town" who opens a portal to...

    ,
    the main character, Jack Skellington
    Jack Skellington
    Jack Skellington is the protagonist in the 1993 Disney film The Nightmare Before Christmas. Jack is the "Pumpkin King" of Halloween Town and lives in a fantasy world based solely on the Halloween holiday...

    , is "the Pumpkin King."
  • Precious Ramotswe, the fictional detective from Botswana
    Botswana
    Botswana, officially the Republic of Botswana , is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. The citizens are referred to as "Batswana" . Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on 30 September 1966...

     in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
    The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
    The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is a series of twelve novels by Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith. The agency is located in Gaborone, capital of Botswana. Its founder is a Motswana woman, Mma Precious Ramotswe, who features as the stories' protagonist and main detective...

    series of novels by Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith
    Alexander McCall Smith
    Alexander "Sandy" McCall Smith, CBE, FRSE, is a Rhodesian-born Scottish writer and Emeritus Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh. In the late 20th century, McCall Smith became a respected expert on medical law and bioethics and served on British and international committees...

    , often cooks and eats pumpkin.
  • In a short fiction by Nathaniel Hawthorne
    Nathaniel Hawthorne
    Nathaniel Hawthorne was an American novelist and short story writer.Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in 1804 in the city of Salem, Massachusetts to Nathaniel Hathorne and the former Elizabeth Clarke Manning. His ancestors include John Hathorne, a judge during the Salem Witch Trials...

    , Feathertop
    Feathertop
    "Feathertop" is a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, first published in 1852.-Plot summary:In seventeenth century New England, the witch Mother Rigby builds a scarecrow to protect her garden...

    from 1852, a witch turns a scarecrow with a "pumpkinhead" into a man.

See also

  • Kafr Qara
  • List of culinary fruits
  • List of pumpkin varieties
  • Pepitas
    Pepitas
    Pepita is a Spanish culinary term for the pumpkin seed, the edible seed of a pumpkin or other cultivar of squash . The seeds are typically rather flat and asymmetrically oval, and light green in color inside a white hull...

  • Pumpkin Queens
  • Vegetable juice
    Vegetable juice
    Vegetable juice is a drink made primarily of blended vegetables. Vegetable juice is often mixed with fruits such as tomatoes or grapes to improve flavor...


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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