We have recently published ‘Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions’: i.e. tropical and sub-tropical regions. We rely on regular donations to keep our free database going and help fund development of this and another book we are planning on food forest plants for Mediterranean climates. Please give what you can to keep PFAF properly funded. More >>>

Follow Us:


Cucurbita pepo - L.

Common Name Pumpkin, Field pumpkin, Ozark melon, Texas gourd
Family Cucurbitaceae
USDA hardiness 2-11
Known Hazards The sprouting seed produces a toxic substance in its embryo[65].
Habitats Not known in the wild.
Range C. America? The origin is obscure[86].
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Cucurbita pepo Pumpkin, Field pumpkin, Ozark melon, Texas gourd

Cucurbita pepo Pumpkin, Field pumpkin, Ozark melon, Texas gourd


Translate this page:


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Cucurbita pepo is a ANNUAL CLIMBER growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 5 m (16ft 5in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 3 and is frost tender. It is in flower from July to September, and the seeds ripen from August to October. The species is monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and is pollinated by Insects. The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Plant Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Fruit  Leaves  Oil  Oil  Root  Seed
Edible Uses: Oil  Oil

Fruit - cooked[2, 27, 46, 105]. Used as a vegetable, it has a very mild flavour and is very watery[K]. It is often harvested when still very young when it is called courgettes. The fruit has very little flavour of its own and so is often used as a base for making savoury dishes, the seeds being scooped out of the fruit and a filling being put in its place - this can then be baked[K]. A nutritional analysis is available[218]. Seed - raw or cooked[57, 86, 183]. The seed can also be ground into a powder and mixed with cereals for making bread etc[183]. Rich in oil with a pleasant nutty flavour but very fiddly to use because the seed is small and covered with a fibrous coat[K]. A nutritional analysis is available[218]. The seeds can also be sprouted and used in salads etc[183]. Some caution is advised here, see notes above on toxicity. An edible oil is obtained from the seed[46, 105, 117, 183]. Leaves and young stems - cooked as a potherb[135, 183]. A nutritional analysis is available[218]. Flowers and flower buds - cooked or dried for later use[135, 183]. A nutritional analysis is available[218]. Root - cooked[179]. We have some doubts on this report[K].

References   More on Edible Uses

Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Flowers (Dry weight)
  • 308 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 0%
  • Protein: 26.9g; Fat: 5.8g; Carbohydrate: 51.9g; Fibre: 11.5g; Ash: 15.4g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 904mg; Phosphorus: 1653mg; Iron: 19.2mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 0mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 7692mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.38mg; Riboflavin (B2): 2.12mg; Niacin: 11.54mg; B6: 0mg; C: 346mg;
  • Reference: [ 218]
  • Notes:

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Anthelmintic  Miscellany  Poultice  Urinary

The pumpkin has been much used as a medicine in Central and North America. It is a gentle and safe remedy for a number of complaints, especially as an effective tapeworm remover for children and pregnant women for whom stronger acting and toxic remedies are unsuitable[254]. The seeds are mildly diuretic and vermifuge[7, 88, 254]. The complete seed, together with the husk, is used to remove tapeworms. The seed is ground into a fine flour, then made into an emulsion with water and eaten. It is then necessary to take a purgative afterwards in order to expel the tapeworms or other parasites from the body[7]. As a remedy for internal parasites, the seeds are less potent than the root of Dryopteris felix-mas, but they are safer for pregnant women, debilitated patients and children[238]. The seed is used to treat hypertrophy of the prostate[218]. The seed is high in zinc and has been used successfully in the early stages of prostate problems[254]. The diuretic action has been used in the treatment of nephritis and other problems of the urinary system[254]. The leaves are applied externally to burns[240]. The sap of the plant and the pulp of the fruit can also be used[254]. The fruit pulp is used as a decoction to relieve intestinal inflammation[254].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

The Bookshop: Edible Plant Books

Our Latest books on Perennial Plants For Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens in paperback or digital formats.

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Tropical Plants

Food Forest Plants for Hotter Conditions: 250+ Plants For Tropical Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.
Edible Temperate Plants

Plants for Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests & Permaculture Gardens.

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital media.
More Books

PFAF have eight books available in paperback and digital formats. Browse the shop for more information.

Shop Now

Other Uses

Miscellany  Oil  Oil

The seed contains 34 - 54% of a semi-drying oil. Used for lighting[46].

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Requires a rich, well-drained moisture retentive soil and a very warm, sunny and sheltered position[1, 16, 37, 86]. Prefers a pH of 5.5 to 5.9, but tolerates up to 6.8[86]. Plants are tolerant of light shade[86] (This comment is probably more applicable to warmer climates than Britain[K].). A frost-tender annual plant, the pumpkin or marrow is widely cultivated in temperate and tropical zones for its edible fruit. It has long been grown as a domestic plant and a number of different groups have been developed. Botanists have tried to classify these groups, though there is considerable overlap and clear distinctions are not always possible. Since they are very similar in their cultivation needs, we have treated all the groups together in this entry. The botanists classification is as follows:- C. pepo pepo. This includes the vegetable marrows, zucchinis, pumpkins and ornamental gourds. There are many named varieties and these can vary considerably in size, shape and flavour[27, 183, 200]. The cultivars with larger and rounder fruits are usually called pumpkins, the fruits are harvested in the autumn and can be stored for a few months. The marrows are smaller than pumpkins and generally sausage-shaped. These can also be harvested in the autumn and stored for a few months, but it is more usual to eat them whilst they are still very small, when they are known as courgettes. Harvesting the fruits of the marrows when very small stimulates the plant into making more flowers (and hence fruits) so it can be a very productive way of using the plant. Pumpkins and marrows succeed outdoors most summers in Britain[27], in fact many of these varieties are well adapted to cool growing conditions and therefore do well in the British climate[200]. C. pepo pepo fraterna. This is the probable progenitor of the marrows and so is of potential value in any breeding programmes. C. pepo ovifera. This group includes various summer squashes including the acorn, crookneck and patty pan squashes. C. pepo ovifera ozarkana. A probable ancestor of the summer squashes, it could be of value in breeding programmes. C. pepo texana. The texas gourd, or wild marrow, is another form that could be of value in breeding programmes. Plants produce both male and female flowers. These are insect pollinated but in cool weather it is worthwhile hand pollinating[200]. Most cultivars are day-length neutral and so are able to flower and fruit throughout the British summer[200]. A fast-growing plant, trailing forms can be used to provide a summer screen[86]. This species does not hybridize naturally with other edible members of this genus[135]. Squashes and pumpkins can be differentiated from each other by their fruit stalk, it is angular and polygonal in pumpkins but thick, soft and round in squashes[132]. Pumpkins grow well with sweetcorn and thornapple but they dislike growing near potatoes[18, 20, 201]. They also grow well with nasturtiums, mint, beans and radishes[201].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

Type a value in the Celsius field to convert the value to Fahrenheit:



The PFAF Bookshop

Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

Shop Now

Plant Propagation

Seed - sow April in a greenhouse in a rich soil. Germination should take place within 2 weeks. Sow 2 or 3 seeds per pot and thin out to the best plant. The seed requires a minimum temperature of 13°c to germinate[200]. Grow them on fast and plant out after the last expected frosts, giving them cloche or frame protection for at least their first few weeks outdoors until they are growing strongly.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Native Plant Search

Search over 900 plants ideal for food forests and permaculture gardens. Filter to search native plants to your area. The plants selected are the plants in our book 'Plants For Your Food Forest: 500 Plants for Temperate Food Forests and Permaculture Gardens, as well as plants chosen for our forthcoming related books for Tropical/Hot Wet Climates and Mediterranean/Hot Dry Climates. Native Plant Search

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Abobra tenuifoliaCranberry GourdPerennial Climber3.5 8-11  LMNDM10 
Acanthosicyos horridusNaras. ButterpipsPerennial1.0 9-11 FLMNDM322
Benincasa hispidaWax GourdAnnual6.0 9-11  LMHNM331
Bryonia albaWhite BryonyPerennial Climber4.0 5-9 FLMHSNM120
Bryonia dioicaRed Bryony, Cretan bryonyPerennial Climber3.5 5-9 FLMHSNM12 
Citrullus colocynthisPerennial egusi, Bitter-applePerennial3.0 10-12 FLMNDM323
Citrullus lanatusWater MelonAnnual0.5 8-11  LMNDM431
Coccinia grandisIvy GourdPerennial3.0 8-11  LMHNM220
Cucumis anguriaGherkin, West Indian gherkinAnnual Climber2.4 9-11  LMHNM310
Cucumis meloMelon, CantaloupeAnnual Climber1.5 9-11  LMHNM420
Cucumis melo agrestisWild MelonAnnual Climber1.5 9-11  LMHNM32 
Cucumis melo cantalupensisCantaloupe MelonAnnual Climber1.5 9-11  LMHNM42 
Cucumis melo chitoOrange MelonAnnual Climber1.5 9-11  LMHNM32 
Cucumis melo conomonPickling MelonAnnual Climber1.5 9-11  LMHNM42 
Cucumis melo flexuosusSerpent MelonAnnual Climber1.5 9-11  LMHNM42 
Cucumis melo inodorusHoneydew MelonAnnual Climber1.5 9-11  LMHNM42 
Cucumis melo momordicaSnap MelonAnnual Climber1.5 9-11  LMHNM42 
Cucumis metuliferusHorned Cucumber, African horned cucumberAnnual Climber1.5 9-11  LMHNM221
Cucumis sativusCucumber, Garden cucumberAnnual Climber2.0 9-11  LMHNM422
Cucurbita argyrospermaCushaw PumpkinAnnual Climber0.5 2-11  LMHSNM421
Cucurbita digitataCoyote GourdPerennial5.0 10-12 MLMHNDM303
Cucurbita ficifoliaMalabar Gourd, Figleaf gourdPerennial Climber0.0 9-11 FLMHSNMWe321
Cucurbita foetidissimaBuffalo Gourd, Missouri gourdPerennial Climber6.0 6-11 FLMHSNDM322
Cucurbita maximaWinter SquashAnnual Climber0.6 2-11 FLMHSNM532
Cucurbita moschataSquash, Crookneck squashAnnual Climber0.6 2-11 FLMHSNM531
Cyclanthera brachystachyaCuchinitoAnnual3.0 9-11  LMHSM10 
Cyclanthera pedataAchocha, Caihua, Caygua, Cayua, Korila, Wild CucumberAnnual4.5 9-11 FLMHSNM341
Ecballium elateriumSquirting CucumberPerennial0.3 8-11  LMHNDM02 
Echinocystis lobataWild CucumberAnnual8.0 0-0 FLMHNM011

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment



Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

pepo   Sun Oct 17 09:40:08 2004


Link: mahala

ade adeyinka   Thu Nov 19 2009

Has there been any published scientific publication on it particularly the medicinal uses?

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at [email protected]. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Cucurbita pepo  
© 2010, Plants For A Future. Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567.