- Author: Edward Walbolt
In modern America, pumpkins are the iconic symbol of the Fall season. Pumpkins are a gourd-like squash of the genus Cucurbita from the family Cucurbitaceae and they are native to North America. The word pumpkin comes from the Greek word 'pepon' meaning large melon. Pumpkins date back to 5500 BC and were traced to what is now modern Mexico. They are monoecious, meaning that they have both male and female flowers on the same plant. Pumpkins are a good source of lutein and beta carotene. They are a warm weather crop most often planted in July and they grow best in soils that retain water well. Modern American uses during the fall season are to carve jack-o-lanterns, for pumpkin pies, or part of seasonal table top displays. The seeds from inside the pumpkin can be roasted and consumed, pumpkin can be used to fill ravioli, or be used to flavor brewed beers. Canned pumpkin can be effectively used to treat cats and dogs who experience digestive issues, as I recently had success with first hand. Inevitably most of us will consume pumpkins this Fall in some form or fashion so its nice to know some interesting facts behind the fruit.