C. maxima - winter squash, pumpkin
C. mixta - pumpkin
C. moschata - crookneck squash
|ITIS 22365 2002-11-06|
Summer squashes (such as zucchini (also known as courgette), pattypan and yellow crookneck) are harvested during the summer, while the skin is still tender and the fruit relatively small. They are consumed almost immediately and require little or no cooking.
Winter squashes (such as hubbard, acorn or Cucurbita pepo, spaghetti and pumpkin) are harvested at the end of summer, generally cured to further harden the skin, and stored in a cool place for eating later. They generally require longer cooking time than summer squashes.
Squash is native to North America and was one of the "Three Sisters" planted by Native Americans. The Three Sisters were the three main indigenous plants used for agriculture: maize (corn), beans, and squash. These were usually planted together, with the cornstalk providing support for the climbing beans, and shade for the squash. The squash vines provided groundcover to limit weeds.
Squash has historically been pollinated by the native squash bee Peponapis pruinosa, but this bee has declined, probably due to pesticide sensitivity, and most commercial plantings are pollinated by honeybees today. One hive per acre is recommended by the US Department of Agriculture. Gardeners with a shortage of bees often have to hand pollinate. Inadequately pollinated squash usually start growing but abort before full development. Often there is an opportunistic fungus that the gardener blames for the abortion, but the fix proves to be better pollination not fungicide.