iPhoneOgraphy – 09 Jan 2016 (Day 9/366)
A pumpkin is a cultivar of a squash plant, most commonly of Cucurbita pepo that is round, with smooth, slightly ribbed skin, and deep yellow to orange coloration. The thick shell contains the seeds and pulp. Some exceptionally large cultivars of squash with similar appearance have also been derived from Cucurbita maxima. Specific cultivars of winter squash derived from other species, including C. argyrosperma, and C. moschata, are also sometimes called “pumpkin”. In New Zealand and Australian English, the term pumpkin generally refers to the broader category called winter squash elsewhere.
Pumpkins, like other squash, are thought to have originated in North America. The oldest evidence, pumpkin-related seeds dating between 7000 and 5500 BC, was found in Mexico.
Since some squash share the same botanical classifications as pumpkins, the names are frequently used interchangeably. One often-used botanical classification relies on the characteristics of the stems: 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.
Male (top) and female (bottom) pumpkin flowers. Traditional C. pepo pumpkins generally weights between 6 and 18 pounds (2.7 and 8.2 kg), though the largest cultivars (of the species C. maxima) regularly reach weights of over 75 pounds (34 kg).
The color of pumpkins is derived from the orange pigments abundant in them. The main nutrients are lutein and both alpha and beta carotene, the latter of which generates vitamin A in the body.
The word pumpkin originates from the word pepon, which is Greek for “large melon”, something round and large. The French adapted this word to pompon, which the British changed to pumpion and later American colonists changed that to the word that is used today, pumpkin.