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What do pumpkins look like, is an interesting and a detailed question, whether you are planting pumpkins for Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations or soups, you must be sure about this Cucurbitaceae family plant in your garden.
While the leaves and fruit resemble other poisonous plants like the wild squash, there are distinguishable features. As you keep reading this article, you will learn how this Cucurbita genus plant’s leaves, vine, and fruit look.
JUMP TO TOPIC
- What Do Pumpkin Plants Look Like?
- What Do Pumpkin Varieties Look Like?
What Do Pumpkin Plants Look Like?
Pumpkin seeds begin to germinate about ten days after planting them. The first sign of germination is two ‘false’ pumpkin leaves called sprouts that grow into the true big leaves. Later, the plant flowers and bears fruits.
Pumpkin leaves break through the soil about ten days after planting the seeds. The first foliage in the early pumpkin plant stages is tiny with a round shape, and you can hardly tell them from other plants. The second set of leaves grows at the sprout’s tip, with jagged edges and a darker green color.
Other leaves are lobed and have a round shape and serrated edges, and this is the leaves’ distinguished characteristic. They also have visible veins, a fuzzy texture with tiny hairs, and they feel prickly. These leaves mature on hollow stems, and they are edible, which means that they would not poison anyone who tries to ingest it.
Some gardeners eat the leaves raw by mixing them in salads, and others like their taste when cooked. They can also be used in soups and have nutritional value like calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, and vitamins A, B, and C. However, you must first peel the top layer of the leaf before cooking to remove the tiny hairs.
The leaves grow as big as the size of two hands, in a circular structure. However, they vary in size depending on the pumpkin variety you planted, they can become bigger with the condition that you have been providing them with.
The vast leaves protect young pumpkins from direct sun rays and pests, because they must protect the fruit in different ways. Some, like powdery mildew, can be transferred to other plants causing damage to the harvest. Moreover, the leaves also keep the soil wet to ensure enough moisture for the plant.
Once the first leaves come out of the ground, the pumpkin vines also start to grow. You won’t notice them at first because they begin as tiny threads. However, these are vital parts of the plant because they act as the umbilical cord to carry water and nutrients.
The vines are prickly like the leaves, and they can irritate and itch your skin. Gardeners should wear long sleeves when attending to the pumpkin garden and gloves to protect their hands. The vines are primarily green and hollow and should not be harvested as they determine how the pumpkin harvest will be.
Pumpkin vines spread up to six feet, and they cover most of the ground. Crowding and entangling of these hollow stems can make it difficult for the fruit to grow, so the farmer should control them by pruning the long ones and directing them to grow upwards instead of horizontally.
When it is the time to harvest it, you must remember to be patient, and not to pluck it out of its vine. You should live it on the vine to continue growing. The giant leaves will protect it from pests and diseases, however, in this case the vine will be way too firm, and that is what you should aim for.
The showy pumpkin flowers grow later after the plant matures, showing that it is ready to bear the giant fruit. The blossoms are bright yellow, matching perfectly with the green leaves. The male flowers are star-shaped and grow on a stem that originates from the vine. The flower has a stamen covered with bright yellow pollen ready to fertilize the female flowers.
The female flowers grow on the same plant as the male ones, and you can hardly differentiate them unless you look inside. These have a stigma and are more swollen at the base. They are also shorter than their male counterparts. The swollen base is what develops into a pumpkin when fertilization occurs.
The male flowers are produced first, and they are more than the female flowers. The female blooms show up two weeks after the male ones. Bees pollinate these plants, and you can also hand-pollinate them using cotton swabs.
Pumpkin flowers are edible and benefit the body with vitamin C, folate, and other vitamins. You can use them to make salads
The most important part of the pumpkin plant, and the reason people plant pumpkins, is to get the fruit. There is no one word to describe a pumpkin fruit because they appear in many shapes, colors, textures, and sizes depending on the variety. A young pumpkin’s skin is easy to pierce using a fingernail, and that will be a sign that your fruit has not developed yet. However, don’t try to pierce all the fruits, as this can cause rot.
Most pumpkin fruits are yellow to orange in color, but others are white or green. They are large and weigh nine to 18 pounds, with others weighing up to 75 pounds. Some varieties have a smooth and lightly furrowed white rind, and their stems are stiff and ridged.
On the other hand, one must also know that a change of color is totally a natural phenomenon when these plants are ready for harvesting, because the fruit will become fully colored. The skin of the harvest pumpkins would be too soft and can be pierced by a finger, the fruit is not ready for harvest.
While pumpkins are grown for food in some states, other gardeners use them for decorations. Some pumpkin varieties are cleaned inside and curved to resemble a face, and lights are inserted for Halloween decorations.
Lastly, you can identify pumpkins with their seeds. They are tiny, flat, asymmetrical, and green and have a yellowish-white shell. When roasted, the exterior and seed have a crunchy texture and nutty flavor.
Pumpkin seeds have many health benefits. They are rich in antioxidants, and iron, help with improving heart health and benefit the body with fiber. They also have an essential amino acid called tryptophan which turns into niacin. Niacin helps with serotonin secretion, a chemical that helps with sleep.
What Do Pumpkin Varieties Look Like?
Pumpkin varieties look like each other, but they would differ in terms of their flesh color, the size of the fruit that they would produce, in addition to the shape of the fruit, and even the texture of the flesh.
Pumpkins are available in wide varieties, and you choose what to plant depending on your reasons for producing them. Remember, some are not edible and are grown for entertainment in festivals.
– The Big Boys
The monster-sized giant boys pumpkins are mainly grown for international pumpkin harvest festivals. Farmers parade their pumpkins, and the largest becomes the winner and gets prizes like cash, ribbon, and notoriety.
Big boys pumpkins are not edible because the flesh is hard and lacks flavor, and this is one of its growing characteristic. On the other hand, which is why these fruits are used for decorating their porches and patios, which are also displayed in public places.
- The Atlantic Giant: weighs up to 500 pounds, making it one of the largest pumpkins in the world. They have bright orange skin and a rough texture. This is how a pumpkin would vary, and this one is known for its giant size, and as it grows the flesh becomes thicker.
- Dill’s Atlantic Giant: Dill’s is a bigger cousin of the Atlantic Giant because the pumpkin can grow up to 900 pounds. It is a commonly grown type for international festivals. However, growing pumpkins like Dill’s Atlantic can be challenging because they require a lot of water and bigger space.
– Red-orange Pumpkins
Red-orange pumpkins are mainly used for decor. They are known for their bright and vivid red flesh, and how it grows in its width and not in its height. However, they differ with the patches that would develop on them.
- Cinderella pumpkins: the name says it all! Cinderella pumpkins are beautiful and rich in deep orange color. They are flat but rounded like Cinderella’s stagecoach. The pumpkins are edible, and they have a semi-sweet flavor. The flesh is moist and perfect for pies. Other people use Cinderellas for display because of their color.
- Lakota pumpkins: another alternative to Cinderella pumpkins are the Lakota. These have red skin with black marks. They are pearl shaped and make delicious butternut squash.
– Ghostly White Pumpkins
Ghostly white pumpkins look less than a ghost. They are attractive when used as porch displays, but ensure the other decor matches their color. Moreover, other than their decorative use, they can even be used for culinary purposes.
- Lumina: The lumina pumpkins have glowing white skin and a smooth texture. They are edible, and homeowners mostly use them for baking. The fruits can also be carved into different shapes and painted. Their skin is a thick one as it grows, and the flesh inside is white as well with a hint of beige.
- White Pie: These are the kinds of fruit that hey have smooth skin with a small oval shape. White pies are edible and are liked for their sweet and buttery texture. You can use them to make pies.
– Miniature Pumpkins
If you are growing pumpkins in a small garden, choose the miniature pumpkins. They are smaller in size, so they take up a small space. These are tiny pumpkins with a tiny fruit, and a beautiful twirling vine that they produce, moreover they even show their little leaves when they are growing. However, they do not grow more than their potential, because as the name suggests, they are tiny in their shape.
– Classic Oranges
Classic oranges are a common type of pumpkin, but they are available in hundreds of varieties. These fruits have a rich orange color with varying shapes and sizes. These are the ones that have a softer edge when they are still young, however, as they’re growing, their skin hardens, and the more they are in a bright place, the better their color gets.
- Autumn Gold: autumn gild pumpkins are known for their glossy golden orange color, which makes them more visible as soon as they are ready. They are primarily grown in cold areas as they can withstand frost. Their texture is smooth and has shallow ribbing.
- Jack-O’-Lantern: this pumpkin type has a smooth texture with shallow ribbing. It grows up to 12 inches tall, and the fruit is round and slightly elongated.
– The Greens
The greens are real pumpkins. They mostly have green skin, with some types having white stripes on the skin, however, when you cut it, you will see beautiful and orange colors on the inside.
One of the famous examples of this variety is the fairy tale pumpkins, that are known to have dark green skin with an orange blush. On maturity, the fruit turns orange on the skin and the flesh. Its shape resembles a Cinderella pumpkin and measures about 15 inches in diameter. The pumpkin is not the best choice for curving, but you can use it to decorate. It is also suitable for making pies.
1. How Long Does It Take for Pumpkins to Grow?
The pumpkin growing season takes 80 to 120 days after planting the seeds. The plant starts by producing sprouts, the two first leaves. The sprouts grow to more giant leaves, and later blooms start showing. It takes up to 55 days for the fruits to be ready after blooming. Leaving the ready pumpkin on the vine for long leads to rotting.
Pumpkins are not perennial crops, so they will not grow again if you don’t plant them. The pumpkin life cycle starts when you plant the seeds and ends at harvesting, and it lasts for about 90 to 120 days, depending on the variety.
When growing pumpkins, you must get the seeds of the variety you want, depending on your needs. It takes 45 to 55 days after flowering for the fruit to start showing and preparing for harvesting.
2. How Many Months Can Pumpkins Stay Fresh?
Pumpkins can last for two to three months when correctly stored. You must ensure they have the right temperature and are in a dark, dry room. Exposure to direct sunlight and moisture can cause rotting. Carved pumpkins last for three to five days.
Identifying pumpkin plants can be challenging for some people. Pumpkins are also available in varieties, so you should choose the one you want to grow according to your needs. To summarize the article:
- Some pumpkin types are grown for entertainment, so you must know the edible types if you want to use the fruit in your curry.
- Pumpkin leaves are edible, so you can cook them and benefit from the vitamins.
- Pumpkin seeds are also edible, and they can be roasted.
- If you want pumpkins for curving during Halloween, decide the giant pumpkins because they have tougher skin and flesh.
However, the spiky leaves and vines, beautiful flowers, and big yellow, green, red, or cream fruits will help you identify your plant. Now that you know the different pumpkin types, which one can you grow?
- Pumpkin. Britannica.
Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/plant/pumpkin
- Marissa Schuh and Michelle Grabowski. (2022). Bacterial wilt of cucurbits. University of Minnesota Extension.
Retrieved from https://extension.umn.edu/disease-management/bacterial-wilt