Pumpkin worldwide recognized as a valuable vegetable plant. Pumpkin dishes are easily digested, contain many beneficial substances for the body and are very accessible. But neither the majority of housewives who add pumpkin to cereals, make delicious juice or tasty jam for the winter, nor the gardeners know that under one name very different interesting cultures are combined.
Moreover, these plants not only belong to different species, but also have completely different purposes.
The classification of pumpkin varieties
The genus Cucurbita, uniting numerous pumpkin varieties, includes 18 species, most of which have no culinary value, and some are used as fodder, ornamental and technical crops.
The main center of origin and distribution of pumpkin plant species is Central and South America, where these plants were familiar and used by people in ancient times. However, some subspecies originate from the Asian region and Africa. Currently, thanks to the development of relations between countries and continents, gardeners have access to all species diversity, and you can try to grow the most unusual plants on your plot.
And the most famous in the world cultural types of food destination include:
- large-fruited pumpkin or Cucurbita maxima;
- hardcore gourd or Cucurbita pepo;
- butternut squash or Cucurbita moschata.
In this case, two species, namely the large-fruited and hard-to-eat pumpkin, are also grown for animal feed.
One of the subspecies of large-fruited is a pumpkin of spectacular shape represented in the photo, reminiscent of Turkish hats and grown as a decorative culture. But many popular zucchini and squash, although eaten in the form of green stuff, also belong to the pumpkin and belong to the species Cucurbita pepo.
With a mass of common features and properties, cultivated types and varieties of pumpkin, as in the photo, have a number of differences in the appearance of the green parts of plants and fruits, as well as in their quality.
If you look at the stems, then the large-fruited pumpkin will turn out to be almost of a rounded cross-section, and that of a hard-bodied pumpkin with clearly visible edges.
A plant belonging to the species Cucurbita maxima can be found on practically flat leaf plates, while the nutmeg on the leaves has a clearly visible notch in the center. And the leaves of a hard pumpkin are covered with a rough, spike-like pile.
- Fruits of the solid-leaf and large-fruited pumpkin most often have a rounded or elongated shape, and the seeds are located in the middle of the fruit in bulk cavities.
- But the nutmeg pear-shaped gourd pulp occupies almost the entire volume of the fruit, and there are very few seeds, and they are closer to the expanding end.
Pumpkins cultivated in Russia and around the world can have a climbing or bush form. And in the subgroup of bush pumpkins, as in the photo, zucchini, zucchini and squash, cut from a plant aged 6-14 days, are included.
So what is this or that kind of pumpkin good for? What are its characteristics and features? To understand all the variety will help photos of species and varieties of pumpkin.
Large pumpkin( Cucurbita maxima)
The name of this type of pumpkin speaks for itself.
Large-fruited pumpkin varieties are popular with gardeners all over the world, but the most outstanding specimens can be obtained only in the conditions of a long warm summer. Under favorable conditions, the weight of pumpkins reaches several hundred kilograms, and delicacy varieties accumulate up to 15% sugar.
Not surprisingly, the pumpkin Cucurbita maxima received the greatest distribution in its homeland, in Peru, as well as in the southern states of the United States, Bolivia and India, where many interesting local varieties were obtained. Interestingly, large pumpkins, even belonging to the same species, amaze with their shapes, colors and even sizes. Along with the giant plants, there are dwarfs that produce very modest fruits, like the mentioned pumpkin-shaped pumpkin, in the photo.
A well-known representative of a large-fruited species on Russian beds can be considered such a well-known variety, such as the “100 pound” pumpkin, in the photo, even growing in the middle lane to 10–15 kg, and in warmer regions, pleasing summer residents with 35–50 kg fruits. Pumpkin variety is distinguished by thin orange bark, loose yellow-orange flesh and resistance to common diseases of the culture.
Among the large-fruited champions pumpkin varieties "Titan" and "Merchant", not bringing gardeners for many years.
But the hybrid "Mother-in-law" has only recently appeared in vegetable gardens, but has already established itself as a high-yielding crop, producing fruits weighing up to 20 kg. The pulp of such pumpkins is rich in carotene, has a decent taste and does not lose quality during long-term storage.
Hard-hulled Pumpkin( Cucurbita rero)
This species of wild-growing gourd was once discovered by the Native American tribes of Central America and has become one of the most popular, if not cult, plants in the region.
An annual vegetable plant, today represented by many dozens of varieties and varieties, is grown everywhere from southern Mexico to the central US states. There are climbing plants and shrubs in the culture, and some of the subspecies are decorative pumpkins, as in the photo, used to decorate the garden and interior.
Cucurbita pepo, as a species, is subdivided into several distinct varieties, among which are: solid pumpkin, zucchini and squash.
The name of the hard-bodied pumpkin is due to the coarse, very dense layer of bark, which is gaining strength as the fruit ripens. This is the earliest appearance in Russian vegetable gardens, but pumpkin lovers should take into account that the flesh of this type of fruit can be quite coarse, so choose the varieties for cultivation should be especially careful. Today, summer residents are offered many interesting hybrids and pumpkin varieties, among which there are very unusual plants and properties.
The early ripening solid pumpkin of the “Spaghetti” variety matures in 65–80 days and forms a long-glistening plant with oval or cream colored oval fruits. Pumpkin weight ranges from 800 to 1.5 kg, but the main feature of the variety is hidden under the hard bark. This is a small-sized, disintegrating pulp into individual fibers, the type of which gave the name to the variety. The sweetness of this pumpkin, in the photo, is small, but the variety is loved by vegetarians and supporters of proper nutrition for the opportunity to feast on unusual vegetable "pasta".
Amazon is an early type of pumpkin, the main value of which is portioned small fruits weighing about one kilogram. Juicy orange pumpkin pulp is rich in sugar and carotenes, valuable for children and diet. At the same time, the fruitful variety can be attributed to the bush pumpkins with short, barely developed lashes.
Golosmeyannaya pumpkin deserves special attention gardeners. It is a mid-season variety, forming plants with long powerful lashes up to 5 meters long. The weight of one pumpkin is 3-5 kg, the flesh is orange, friable.
A characteristic feature of the culture is oil-rich, tasty seeds without a solid surface shell. The pumpkin, in the photo, is unpretentious, but it cannot be stored for a long time because of the danger of seed germination inside the fruit.
Ultra-ripe variety of pumpkin squash "Smile" easily tolerates frosts, is harvested and valued as a source of sweet portion fruits with pulp that smells like real melon.
A typical example of varieties of bush gourd are patissons and zucchini grown in every garden, as well as zucchini, popular today with fruits of all shades of yellow and green.
Butternut Pumpkin( Cucurbita moschata)
Butternut squash can be called the most delicious of all cultivated species. It is not surprising that the seeds of this particular culture were found by archaeologists in the study of the oldest settlements in South America.
According to the morphological features, namely the appearance of stems, leaves and flowers, this type of pumpkin occupies an intermediate position between Cucurbita maxima and Cucurbita pepo. But the pulp of the fruit is very different in appearance and taste, because on average it contains up to 11.5% sugar, is dense, oily and has a delicate pleasant smell.
However, it is more difficult to grow the fruits of nutmeg pumpkin than with a large-fruited or hard-edged tree. Plants are demanding for heat and humidity, and pumpkin varieties are in the middle or late. There are six subspecies of nutmeg in the world. But the most popular are pear-shaped pumpkins, thanks to the taste and consistency of the pulp called "butternat" - an oil nut.
For Russian summer residents, breeders offer quite cold-resistant pumpkin varieties of this type, bringing sweet delicacy fruits for 90–120 days.
Early ripe cultivar of the nutmeg "Sugar mace" forms climbing plants, on which up to 8 fruits weighing from one and a half to two kilograms can ripen at the same time.
The peculiarity of the pumpkin variety, as in the photo, is the unusual shape of the fruits, and their rather early ripening. Sweet and juicy pulp, rich in carotene, vitamins and can be used for making juices, baby food and other types of culinary processing.
Pearl variety pumpkin ripens three weeks later. The fruits in this case have the classic form of a pear-shaped pumpkin and by weight reach 3-6 kg. Rich orange pulp contains a lot of sugar and carotene, which makes it suitable for baby and medical nutrition. Plants tolerate dry periods, and fruits can ripen in indoor conditions.
"Pineapple" Butternut squash is a mid-season hybrid with long lashes and pear-shaped fruit with delicious fruits weighing up to 2.5 kg. The bark of pumpkins of this variety, as in the photo, has a cream or yellowish tint, and the flesh can accumulate up to 10% sugar. Pumpkin-type pumpkin is versatile and disease resistant.
Figure-leaved Pumpkin( Cucurbita ficifolia)
In the Peruvian jungle there is a homeland and another type of pumpkin, which, unlike the plants already described, is a perennial crop.
Externally, a green pumpkin, on the surface of which a whitish, whimsical pattern is clearly visible, on the cut more resembles an unripe watermelon. The oval or elongated fruit of the pumpkin leaf has coarse white or yellowish flesh with a sweetish aroma and taste. The seeds also resemble watermelon in shape and solid black shell. The plants are vigorous, climbing, individual shoots in length reach 10 meters.
Green pumpkins of this type are used in vegetable side dishes, subjected to heat treatment, and mature ones are raw materials for confectionery and alcoholic beverages. Despite the tropical origin, this type of pumpkin, as in the photo, is easily grown even in the North-West of the country.
Wax gourd( Benincasa hispida)
The elongated green gourd of this species was originally known only in the Southeast. But today, the first pumpkin varieties of the genus Benincasa hispida appeared in Russia. Fruits of a dark green shade possess the unusual dense bark, to the touch reminding wax.
The variety of wax pumpkin "Chengzhou" forms the fruit, ready to be harvested 125-130 days after sowing. Pumpkins ripen on long powerful whips. The weight of each fruit reaches 6–15 kg, and its length ranges from 25 to 50 cm.
Milky hue the pulp of this type of pumpkin can be used in boiled, stewed or fried. For culinary purposes, they use both green, unripe pumpkins and ripe fruits. As ripening pumpkin accumulates some sugar, but can not be compared with nutmeg pumpkin. But wax gourd is a record holder for the shelf life. Without loss of quality, fruits can lie for up to 2–3 years.