The surprising evolutionary history of pumpkins and squashes

Shops are stocking up on pumpkins for Halloween. While I haven’t always been a fan of squashes, I’ve been charmed by how such unlikely fruits came to spread worldwide, says Penny Sarchet

Humans | Columnist 19 October 2022

Pumpkin field at sunset; Shutterstock ID 510085957; purchase_order: -; job: -; client: -; other: -

Shutterstock/JamesChen

IN PARTS of the world where autumn is underway, squashes are now on the menu, and shops are stocking up on pumpkins for Halloween. I haven’t always been a fan of squashes, but the more I have learned about their evolutionary history, the more I have been charmed by how such unlikely and unpromising fruits came to spread worldwide.

There is a beguiling diversity of squashes and pumpkins, and their range of shapes, sizes and colours gives them much aesthetic appeal. But they all belong to one genus – Cucurbita – and fall broadly into only six main species or subspecies. …

Related Posts