Pumpkins are an Important Part of the Autumn Meal Line-Up. But is a Pumpkin Considered a Squash?
The Short Answer
All pumpkins are squash, but all squash are not pumpkins.
The Long Answer
It’s fall once more, and that means one thing. Pumpkins, pumpkins and MORE pumpkins. Say what you will about being “basic” with your spiced lattes and pumpkin flavored everything, but these versatile fruits are important for everything from autumn dishes to décor.
Recently, I heard someone refer to a pumpkin as a squash. I turned my head sideways at them in curiosity, ready to ask them to justify their statement. Then, I remembered that I write for a blog that investigates such claims, and decided that I would look into it myself and share the results with all of you.
If you’re like me, I know you’re saying to yourself “there’s no way a pumpkin is a squash.” Well, we’re both wrong in that regard!
It turns out that all pumpkins are squash, but all squash are not pumpkins. This is not to be confused with teenagers squashing pumpkins… Let me explain.
Squash is a type of fruit that grows on a vine. Like all fruits, it comes from a fertilized ovary in the base of a flower and contains the seeds of the plant it came from. There are four species of squash, all of which grow in different parts of the world. Pumpkins belong to one of these species.
I’m not going to get all technical and start naming Latin genus names on you. Instead, I wanted to point out that while pumpkins are squash, they are different from other varieties, which is why the classification seemed odd to me. One thing that makes pumpkins stand out amongst their distant squash relatives is versatility, meaning pumpkins can be grown almost anywhere. Most other species of squash require a very specific set of weather conditions to live.
Other interesting differences between pumpkins and other forms of squash are their stems and seeds. A pumpkin’s stem is still and spiky, which is why you can hold onto one like a handle while carrying your pumpkin home from the patch. Its seeds are also edible, unlike other variations of squash.
While many squash are used as either a decorative item or food, pumpkins can be both!
So, when you scoop out your first slice of pumpkin pie this holiday season, you can create some fascinating table conversation about the relationship between pumpkins and squash!
You’re welcome and Happy Holidays.