It’s that time of year again when the air is crisp and the nights are cold, and everything is pumpkin flavored. You can see pumpkins everywhere you go; whether it’s in the grocery store, Starbucks, or the local coffee shop. But there’s one question everyone is asking: what’s the difference between a pumpkin and a squash? If you’re not sure whether you’re holding a squash or a pumpkin, it’s time to learn the difference between the two, because there’s one!
What Is Squash?
Squash is the collective name given to several species of plant in the genus Cucurbita, including C. maxima, C. mixta , C. moschata and C. pepo, which are widely grown for their edible fruit. Squash plants are are herbaceous annual plants which are either trailing vines or bush-like in morphology. Vines generally have large, lobed leaves and long vines which can climb by attaching to surfaces with their tendrils. Bushes generally take up less space than the sprawling vine types and may have prickly leaves.
Squash plants produce yellow or orange flowers and green, white or yellow fruit in a variety of shapes and sizes with smooth or ridged skin. Vining squash varieties can reach several meters in length and, as annuals, survive only one growing season. Squash originate from North and Central America and are referred to by their cultivar name e.g. acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, zucchini, banana squash, hubbard squash and buttercup squash.
What Is Pumpkin?
Pumpkin is the name given to a group of plant species in the genus Cucurbita, including Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita mixta, Cucurbita maxima, and Cucurbita moschata. Pumpkin belongs to the family Cucurbitaceae and is grown primarily as a vegetable or ornamental plant. Pumpkin plants are short lived annual or perennial vines with branching tendrils and broad lobed leaves. The plant produces large yellow or orange flowers and a pepo fruit (berry with a thick rind) known as a pumpkin. The fruit can range greatly in size, from miniature pumpkins weighing a few ounces to giant pumpkins which can reach over 75 lbs (34 kg).
The skin of the pumpkin is usually ribbed and orange in color although some varieties are green, grey, yellow or red in color. Pumpkin plants are usually grown as annuals, surviving one growing season and the vines are capable of reaching 15 m (50 ft) in length if vines are allowed to root. Pumpkin may also be referred to as squash or marrow and is believed to have originated in Mexico and South America.
- Both pumpkins and squash are members of the Cucurbita genus, which also includes melons and cucumbers.
- The word “pumpkin” actually comes from the word “pumpkin” in the Native American language, which means “gourd.” The word “squash” comes from the Native American word “askutasquash,” which means “to pound things.” This probably refers to the fact that early Native Americans used to pound the squash seeds to remove the hulls.
- Pumpkins are typically round, while squash come in a variety of shapes, including oblong, cylindrical and triangular.
- Pumpkins are typically larger than squash.
- Pumpkins are round and have a smooth skin, while squash are elongated and have a more textured skin.
- The rind of a pumpkin is typically smooth, while the rind of a squash is more likely to be ribbed.
- The most common types of pumpkins are the jack-o’-lantern, sugar and pie pumpkins. Squash varieties include acorn, butternut, buttercup, spaghetti and Hubbard.
- Pumpkins are typically used in sweet dishes, like pies and pancakes, while squash is used in savory dishes, like soup and risotto.
- Pumpkin seeds are larger and more oval-shaped, while squash seeds are smaller and more triangular.
- Pumpkin is softer and more watery, while squash is firmer with a slightly fibrous texture.
- Pumpkin vines may continue growing until frost kills them off, but most varieties of squash can be harvested within 100 days after planting even if you live in an area where summertime brings very warm weather.
- Pumpkins are generally grown on the vine, while squash can be grown on the vine or on the ground.
- The flesh of a pumpkin is orange, while the flesh of a squash can be orange, yellow, white or green.
- The seeds of squashes are typically harder and more bitter than pumpkin seeds.
- Squash is generally less sweet and watery than pumpkin, and it has a more muted flavor.
- The stalks of pumpkins are also hairy, while squash stalks are smooth.
- The seeds of a pumpkin are typically white and hulled, while the seeds of a squash are typically darker and not hulled.
- Squashes are also harvested earlier in the season than pumpkins.
- When cut open, pumpkins show an arrangement of seeds inside that resemble an asterisk formation, while squashes do not contain this characteristic seed pattern inside them.
- Pumpkins are specifically cultivated for their edible flesh, while squash is grown for their colorful shells or ornamental qualities.
- Squash is often described as having a slightly sweet and nutty flavor, while pumpkin is more bland but still slightly sweet.
- Pumpkin is popularly used for ornamental uses in the Halloween for carving purposes.Squash is not used for ornamental purposes but mainly is eaten for its various health benefits.
- Pumpkins are rich in potassium and Vitamin A, E and C. Squashes are rich in vitamins A, vitamin B6, magnesium and fibre.
The pumpkin and squash are both members of the Cucurbitaceae family. The pumpkin, as we all know it, is a winter squash that grows on vines and usually has smooth skin with orange color. However, not all pumpkins are edible; those large decorative ones aren’t fit for consumption unless you’re looking to make some jack-o’-lanterns! As for the difference between a pumpkin and a squash: Pumpkins tend to be rounder than squashes or gourds, which can vary in shape depending on variety.
While pumpkins are typically oblong with a thicker skin, squashes tend to be rounder and have a smoother exterior. In addition, pumpkins contain more water than squash which is why it’s mainly used as an ingredient in pie filling or pumpkin soup. Squash has been cooked for centuries because of its sweet taste and unique texture that’s perfect for soups, stews, curries and more. While these two plants belong to the same family and do bear some resemblance to one another, there’s much more diversity among them than we might think at first glance