Pumpkin

Cucurbita Pepo

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers; Fruit; Leaves; Root; Seed.

Edible Uses: Oil.

Fruit - cooked. Used as a vegetable, it has a very mild flavour and is very watery. 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. A nutritional analysis is available. Seed - raw or cooked. The seed can also be ground into a powder and mixed with cereals for making bread etc. 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. 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. Leaves and young stems - cooked as a potherb.. Flowers and flower buds - cooked or dried for later use. Root - cooked. There are some doubts about this.

Medicinal Uses

Anthelmintic; Miscellany; Poultice.

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. The seeds are mildly diuretic and vermifuge. 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. They are safer for pregnant women, debilitated patients and children than many other remedies. The seed is used to treat hypertrophy of the prostate. The seed is high in zinc and has been used successfully in the early stages of prostate problems. The diuretic action has been used in the treatment of nephritis and other problems of the urinary system. The leaves are applied externally to burns. The sap of the plant and the pulp of the fruit can also be used. The fruit pulp is used as a decoction to relieve intestinal inflammation.

Other Uses

Oil.

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

Cultivation details

Requires a rich, well-drained moisture retentive soil and a very warm, sunny and sheltered position. Prefers a pH of 5.5 to 5.9, but tolerates up to 6.8. Plants are tolerant of light shade. Plants produce both male and female flowers. These are insect pollinated but in cool weather or for pure seed it is worthwhile hand pollinating. Most cultivars are day-length neutral and so are able to flower and fruit throughout the British summer. A fast-growing plant, trailing forms can be used to provide a summer screen. This species does not hybridize naturally with other edible members of this genus. 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. Pumpkins grow well with sweetcorn and thornapple but they dislike growing near potatoes. They also grow well with nasturtiums, mint, beans and radishes. If a pumkin plant catches a whiff of sunflower, it will not grow at all.

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