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**Pumpkin Overview**:
– Etymology: Pumpkin originates from the Ancient Greek word πέπων, meaning melon, transitioning through Latin and French.
– Description: Pumpkins are a type of berry known as a pepo, characterized by smooth, ribbed skin and yellow to orange color. Giant pumpkins can exceed a ton in mass.
– History: Oldest evidence dates back to 7,000-5,500BC in Mexico. They were part of companion planting in indigenous societies and have cultural significance.
Nutrition: Raw pumpkin is rich in provitamin A beta-carotene, Vitamin A, and moderate Vitamin C content. It is 92% water, 6.5% carbohydrates, 0.1% fat, and 1% protein.
– Production: In 2020, world production was 28 million tonnes, with China producing 27%. The U.S. is a significant producer, with top states including Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

**Cultivation and Pollination**:
– Planting: Pumpkins are a warm-weather crop planted by early July in the Northern Hemisphere, requiring soil temperatures of at least 15.5°C and well-watered soil.
– Flowers: Pumpkins produce both male and female flowers, typically fertilized by bees. Pollination can be affected by factors like pesticide use and bee decline.
– Importance of Pollinators: Studies highlight the role of native cucurbit pollinators and the impact of insecticides on pollinators.
– Three Sisters Cropping System: Consists of corn, beans, and squash, a traditional Haudenosaunee method detailed in various sources.
– Cultivation Research: Studies on microbial diversity, chemical evaluation, species crosses, and growing tips for Halloween pumpkins.

**Uses and Varieties**:
– Culinary Uses: Pumpkins can be boiled, steamed, or roasted, and parts like shell, seeds, leaves, and flowers are edible. They are used in various dishes like pumpkin pie, soups, and bread.
– Animal Feed: Pumpkin seed meal improves egg nutrition, and seeds can replace soybean in chicken feed.
– Cultural Significance: Pumpkins are used for autumn decorations, jack-o-lantern carving, culinary dishes, and canning.
Pumpkin Varieties: Various types like Big Max, Calabaza, Cheese pumpkin, and others have unique characteristics and historical significance.
– More Pumpkin Varieties: Additional varieties like Galeux d’Eysines, Japanese pie pumpkin, and Kabocha are known for specific traits.

**Folklore and Fiction**:
Halloween: Carved pumpkins are associated with harvest season and Halloween, originating from Irish myth about Stingy Jack. Immigrants in North America used native pumpkins for carving.
– Chunking: Competitive activity where teams build devices to throw pumpkins far, using mechanisms like catapults, trebuchets, ballistas, and air cannons.
– Folk Medicine: Pumpkins have been used in folk medicine for various ailments in different cultures.
– Folklore and Fiction: Pumpkins have connections to supernatural beliefs in folklore and popular culture, seen in stories like Cinderella’s carriage and Sleepy Hollow’s headless horseman.
Pumpkin Festivals: Giant pumpkin growers compete to grow massive pumpkins, with annual festivals dedicated to pumpkins held in some places.

**References and Further Reading**:
– Various sources provide information on pumpkin varieties, origin, and history of cultivars.
– Research articles, books, news, and dictionaries delve into pumpkin terminology, cultivation, and events.
Pumpkin Contest and World Record: Details about the heaviest pumpkin, the contest winner, and the record set in 2023.
Pumpkin Production and Statistics: Data on pumpkin production worldwide, with a focus on leading producers like China and the U.S.
Pumpkin Uses and Nutrition: Information on nutritional value, culinary uses, and health benefits of pumpkins and their seeds.

Pumpkin (Wikipedia)

A pumpkin, in English-language vernacular, is a cultivated winter squash in the genus Cucurbita. The term is most commonly applied to round, orange-colored squash varieties, though it does not possess a scientific definition and may be used in reference to many different squashes of varied appearance.

A pile of pumpkins at the French Market in New Orleans, Louisiana
A variety of pumpkin cultivars
A field of giant pumpkins

The use of the word "pumpkin" is thought to have originated in New England in North America, derived from a word for melon, or a native word for round. The term is sometimes used interchangeably with "squash" or "winter squash", and is commonly used for some cultivars of Cucurbita argyrosperma, Cucurbita ficifolia, Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbita moschata, and Cucurbita pepo.

C. pepo pumpkins are among the oldest known domesticated plants, with evidence of their cultivation dating to between 7000 BCE and 5500 BCE. Wild species of Cucurbita and the earliest domesticated species are native to North America (parts of present-day northeastern Mexico and the southern United States), but cultivars are now grown globally for culinary, decorative, and other culturally-specific purposes.

The pumpkin's thick shell contains edible seeds and pulp. Pumpkin pie is a traditional part of Thanksgiving meals in Canada and the United States and pumpkins are frequently used as autumnal seasonal decorations and carved as jack-o'-lanterns for decoration around Halloween. Commercially canned pumpkin purée and pie fillings are usually made of different pumpkin varieties from those intended for decorative use.

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