QUESTION: How many varieties of pumpkins are there? When I walk around the neighborhood in the fall, I see pumpkins of almost every color, size and shape that I can think of. — Yolanda R
ANSWER: There are easily more than 250 different types of pumpkins in North America alone, and you can buy seeds to grow pumpkins of almost every imaginable sort! We’ve started working on our own list of pumpkin types here, and we’re constantly adding to it.
Pumpkins are members of the Cucurbita genus, a group of vine plants that includes pumpkins along with other plants like cantaloupes, summer squash, watermelons, winter squash, zucchini, and gourds. The individual species types that include varieties we refer to as pumpkins mostly fall under Cucurbita pepo, but there are some plants called pumpkins that come from the Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbita argyrosperma, Cucurbita ficifolia, or Cucurbita moschata species instead.
If you’re trying to be exact, you’re going to have trouble counting. That’s because the distinction between a pumpkin, a winter squash, and a squash is blurry, and there is no consensus when it comes to how to distinguish between these categories. Pumpkins, it is generally agreed, are a subset of winter squash, but it hasn’t been determined exactly which species are pumpkins instead of simply squashes. As a result, one seed company may call a certain species a pumpkin while another calls that species a winter squash, so don’t let the contradictions stress you out too much.
So although we can’t give you an exact number of varieties, we can tell you that it’s a very large number!