More than you ever wanted to know about America's favorite decorative gourd. Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7qmmN8NawQ&feature=youtu.be
- •Pumpkins are squashesThey're actually the exact same species as a lot of other squash, including acorn squash, yellow squash, spaghetti squash and even zucchini. (Zucchini + pumpkin = zumpkin, btw)
- •The Latin name for pumpkins is "cucurbita pepo"It just means "gourd melon."
- •Pumpkins are both a trick and a treatThe delicious flesh and bright colors entice animals to eat the seeds inside and ... disperse them. The seeds, or pepitas, have evolved tough shells that can survive the exciting journey through an animal's digestive tract.
- •In Russia, some believe that eating pumpkin seeds can help get rid of parasitic worms.It's not clear if that really works in humans, but there is a published study in which pumpkin seeds helped de-worm ostriches.
- •Pumpkins come from the AmericasThey were actually one of the first plants domesticated there, 8,000-10,000 years ago.
- •When the pilgrims arrived in 1620 they ate a lot of pumpkinsThey even made beer with them. (Yes, pumpkin beer was a THING in the 17th century.)
- •Pumpkins have been used as a beauty productIt was once thought that you could get rid of freckles by putting mashed-up pumpkin on your faces. (In all fairness that probably did distract from the freckles.)
- •The pumpkin carriage in "Cinderella" (written in 1697) is supposed to be a red pumpkinPumpkins come in all colors — yellow, white, even blue. But they all start out green, when their skin is full of green chlorophyll that photosynthesizes just like leaf. As the pumpkin ripens, the chlorophyll breaks down, and other pigments (like orange carotene) become visible. It’s a signal: "Hey, animals — come eat me, I'm delicious (and full of seeds)."
- •The jack-'o-lantern has its roots in EuropeThe story is that a sinful man named Stingy Jack tricked the devil to get out of of hell, but also wasn't allowed into heaven so he was forced to wander the earth with only a single coal for a light.
- •In the British Isles, people used to use turnips to carve their jack-o'-lanterns