Squash, the name of an annual plant of the gourd family and of the edible fruit it bears. The squash is closely related to the pumpkin.
Squashes, which are native to the New World, are grown both by home gardeners and commercial producers in many parts of the world. Some squash plants grow as bushes, others as sprawling vines. Their yellow male and female flowers require insects to bring about pollination. The fruit has various shapes, and the skin may be white, gold, green, orange, or striped. Some varieties have warty or ribbed skin. The fruit's weight ranges from two ounces (55 g) to more than 10 pounds (4.5 kg), depending on the variety and growing conditions. Squash is a nutritious food, especially as a source of vitamins A and C.
There are numerous varieties of squashes, usually divided into summer and winter squashes. Summer squashes include crooknecks, scallops, and zucchinis. They are usually bushy plants. The fruit is generally picked before fully ripe. These squashes are usually boiled and served as a vegetable. Some varieties are dried and used as ornamental gourds.
Winter squashes —such as acorn, butternut, Hubbard, and turban—have long, sprawling vines. The fruit is harvested after it is mature. Winter squashes can be stored for months if kept dry and at temperatures above freezing. They are commonly baked for use as a vegetable or made into pies. They are also used as livestock feed.
Summer squashes are varieties of Cucurbita pepo. Winter squashes are varieties of C. pepo, C. moschata, C. mixta; Banana squash, C. maxima. All are of the gourd family, Cucurbitaceae.