Pumpkin and squash

Pumpkin and squash are believed to be the first food plants cultivated by the Native Americans.

I have googled the photoes of "pumpkin and squash," but I still can't distinguish them. How do you tell them apart?
Second, does "food plants" refer to "plants cultivated for food?" Thanks.
  • Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    Pumpkin and squash belong to the same family of plants.

    So you can say that pumpkins are a type of squash.
    In some countries they call them marrows.


    Senior Member
    USA - English
    "Squash" is a family of related plants. The very largest "pumpkins" are in fact not true pumpkins at all, but are giant squash. Squash come in many types and sizes and shapes, ranging from green and yellow zucchini (or courgettes), to butternut squash, to acorn squash, to spaghetti squash -- all of which are delicous!


    Senior Member
    Australia English
    Thanks, rocstar and Brioche.
    Could I sum up that pumpkin is usually large and round, but squash is small and shapes like a gourd?
    The naming of these plants is a big muddle. Different countries have different names.

    The plant that we call Butternut Pumpkin in Australia is called Butternut Squash in America.


    Senior Member
    I mentioned this on your cucumber thread, but I'll repeat it a little more indepth on this thread.

    The genus Cucurbita includes plants that are commonly called squashes, pumpkins and gourds. There are three classifications of this vegetable: edible summer, edible winter and inedible winter.

    Edible summer = summer squash = must be eaten within 1 week of harvest; will rot over time. Common names are squash, zucchini, yellow squash. Appearance is generally tubular, with thin, smooth skin and grows "bush" style.

    Edible winter = winter squash = can be saved for long periods (over winter.) Common names are pumpkin, (xyz) pumpkin, (xyz) squash where xyz denotes a particular strain like Queen Anne or Acorn or Hubbard. Appearance is generally round or oval with thick, smooth or bumpy skin in many colors and grows mostly "vine" style.

    Inedible winter = gourds = can be fashioned into implements; long-lasting.

    When you see both pumpkin and squash used together, such as in your example, it most likely is trying to indicate that they (the Native Americans) cultivated both winter and summer style squash plants and that they recognized that both varieties are closely related and that both varieties, while cultivated together in one season, supplemented their dietary needs for different seasons.