Botanical Name: Pumpkin
Genus : Cucurbita
Habitat: Pumpkin is believed to have originated in Mexico and South America.Now it is cultivated through out the world.
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 is usually orange on 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.
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A pumpkin is a squash fruit, usually orange in color when ripe (although there are also white, red, and gray varieties). Pumpkins grow as a gourd from a trailing vine of the genus Cucurbita (family Cucurbitaceae). Cultivated in North America, continental Europe, Australia, New Zealand, India and some other countries, Cucurbita species include Curcurbita pepo, Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbita mixta, and Cucurbita moschata â€” all plants native to the Western hemisphere. The pumpkin varies greatly in form, being sometimes nearly globular, but more generally oblong or ovoid in shape. The rind is smooth and its color depends on the particular species (very dark-green, very pale-green, & orange-yellow are common). The larger kinds acquire a weight of 40 to 80 lb (18 to 36 kg) but smaller varieties are in vogue for garden culture. Pumpkins are a popular food, with their insides commonly eaten cooked and served in dishes such as pumpkin pie; the seeds can be roasted as a snack. Pumpkins are traditionally used to carve Jack-o’-lanterns for use in Halloween celebrations.
Botanically it is a fruit, referring to a plant part which grows from a flower; however, it is widely regarded as a vegetable in culinary terms, referring to how it is eaten.
Butternut squash is called “butternut pumpkin” in Australia, and “neck pumpkin” in parts of Pennsylvania, where it is commonly regarded as a pumpkin and used in similar ways to other pumpkin.
Pumpkins have historically been pollinated by the native squash bee Peponapis pruinosa, but this bee has declined, probably due to pesticide sensitivity, and today most commercial plantings are pollinated by honeybees. One hive per acre (4,000 mÂ² per hive) is recommended by the United States of America (US) Department of Agriculture. Gardeners with a shortage of bees, however, often have to hand pollinate.
Inadequately pollinated pumpkins usually start growing but abort before full development. Often there is an opportunistic fungus that the gardener blames for the abortion, but the solution to this problem tends to be better pollination rather than fungicide.
Pumpkins have male and female flowers, the latter distinguished by the small ovary at the base of the petals. The bright, colorful flowers are short-lived and may open for as little as one day.
The hulled or semi-hulled seeds of pumpkins can be roasted and eaten as a snack, similar to the sunflower seed. Pumpkin seeds can be prepared for eating by first separating them from the orange pumpkin flesh, then coating them in a generally salty sauce (Worcestershire sauce, for example), after which the seeds are distributed upon a baking sheet, and then cooked in an oven at a relatively low temperature for a long period of time.
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of iron, zinc, essential fatty acids, potassium, and magnesium. Pumpkin seeds may also promote prostate health since components in pumpkin seed oil appears to interrupt the triggering of prostate cell multiplication by testosterone and DHT.Removing the white hull of the pumpkin seed reveals an edible, green-colored seed inside that is commonly referred to as a pepita in North and South America.
Austria is a well-known producer of pumpkin seed oil.
When ripe, the pumpkin can be boiled, baked, or roasted, or made into various kinds of pie, a traditional staple of American Thanksgiving, alone or mixed with other fruit; while small and green it may be eaten in the same way as the vegetable marrow. It can also be eaten mashed or incorporated into soup. If you pour milk into a pumpkin and bake it you can make a pudding. In the Middle East pumpkin is used for sweet dishes, a well known sweet delicacy is called Halawa Yaqtin. In South Asian countries such as India pumpkin is cooked with butter, sugar and spices called Kadu ka Halwa.
The pumpkin is from the Squash (Marrow) family and is related to the zucchini (courgette).
The largest pumpkin on record weighed 1502 lbs (666 kg). The largest pumpkins are really squash, Cucurbita maxima. They were culminated from the hubbard squash genotype by enthusiast farmers through intermittent effort since the mid 1800s. 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.” Processually this phenotype graduated back into the public domain, except now it had the name Atlantic Giant on its record (see USDA PVP # 8500204).
Pumpkins are orange because they contain massive amounts of lutein, alpha- and beta-carotene. These nutrients turn to vitamin A in the body.
Activities involving pumpkins:
A pumpkin carved into a Jack-o’-lantern for Halloween.
Painted mini pumpkins on display in Ottawa, Canada.Using pumpkins as lanterns at Halloween is based on an ancient Celtic custom brought to America by Irish immigrants. All Hallows Eve on 31 October marked the end of the old Celtic calendar year, and on that night hollowed-out turnips, beets and rutabagas with candles inside them were placed on windowsills and porches to welcome home the spirits of deceased ancestors and ward off evil spirits and a restless soul called “Stingy Jack,” hence the name “Jack-o-lantern”.
Pumpkin chucking is a competitive activity in which teams build various mechanical devices designed to throw a pumpkin as far as possible. Catapults, trebuchets, ballistas and air cannons are the most common mechanisms. Some pumpkin chuckers grow special varieties of pumpkin, bred and grown under special conditions intended to improve the pumpkin’s chances of surviving being thrown.
Pumpkin growers often compete to see whose pumpkins are the most massive. Festivals are often dedicated to the pumpkin and these competitions.
Half Moon Bay, California, holds the annual Pumpkin and Arts Festival which includes the World Champion Pumpkin Weigh-Off. Farmers from all over the west compete to determine who can grow the greatest gourd . The winning pumpkin regularly tops the scale at more than 1200 pounds. The Pumpkin Festival draws over 250,000 visitors each year
Morton, Illinois, the self-declared pumpkin capital of the world,, has held a Pumpkin Festival since 1966. The town, where NestlÃ©’s pumpkin packing plant is located (and where 90% of canned pumpkins eaten in the US are processed), hosts a variety of activities during the Pumpkin Festival, including carnival games and pumpkin-related food. In 2006, 70,000 people attended the festival.
Medicinal Value and Uses:
As per Ayurveda:Pumpkin or white gourd is very good for the heart, destroys the excessive humors of bile and phlegm in the body, very nourishing, semen builder and nourishment to the pregnant woman during their pregnancies and also clears away the constipation during that time.
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.