Difference between a Pumpkin and a Squash

March 22, 2017 by Editorial Team

Would you believe it if someone tells you that big, round, orange vegetable you see during the Halloween season is a squash? You’d probably say they are wrong because it’s a “pumpkin” and not a “squash.” So what is really the difference between a pumpkin and a squash? This article will discuss the difference the two.

Descriptions

Pumpkin vs Squash
A kind of squash typically called a “pumpkin”

The term pumpkin actually has no botanical definition. It is a generic term that refers to any round orange squash usually belonging to the species Cucurbita pepo and Cucurbita maxima.

A pumpkin has a thick, ribbed, smooth shell. Its inner layer has seeds and is pulpy. It is usually dark yellow or deep orange and can weigh from 6-18 pounds. Its stem is woody and furrowed.

Most parts of the pumpkin are edible. Its shell, flesh, seeds, flowers, and even leaves can be eaten. In general, a pumpkin is 92% water, 6.5% carbohydrates, and the rest is fat and protein. It is a great source of vitamin A and beta-carotene (which gives it the deep orange color). It also contains a moderate content of vitamin C and traces of fiber, calcium, and potassium.

The pumpkin is the main ingredient in pumpkin pies, which is a traditional food usually served during Thanksgiving in the United States and Canada. It is also great for pumpkin soup and pumpkin bread. However, aside from its culinary purpose, it can also be used as an animal feed or an ornament, especially during the autumn. During the Halloween, pumpkins are carved into different designs and are called jack-o-lanterns.

squash
Different types of squashes

On the other hand, a squash is an edible herbaceous vine that belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. It is scientifically called Cucurbita. It produces large and fleshy fruits. The fruits’ shape and color vary depending on the species. There are two main types of squash:

  1. Summer squash – zucchini, pattypan, crookneck, and straightneck squash
  2. Winter squash – cushaws, hubbards, butternut, and banana squash

The squash is a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, cucurmosin, cucurbitacin, and cucurbitin. Although it is famous for soups, it is actually very versatile and can also be baked, roasted, or sautéed.

Pumpkin vs Squash

What, then, is the difference between a pumpkin and a squash?

The word “pumpkin” does not have any botanical meaning but is actually a common term used to refer to any round, orange squash (mostly belonging to the species Cucurbita pepo and Cucurbita maxima). Conversely, a squash is any edible herbaceous vine that belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. Its color and shape can vary depending on its species. In other words, a pumpkin is a squash but not all squash are pumpkins.

Both are fleshy, delicious, and nutritious. However, aside from its culinary purposes, a pumpkin can also be used as a decoration especially during autumn and Halloween. The squash is mainly used for culinary purposes and is not as commonly used as an ornament.

Comparison Chart

PumpkinSquash
A common term used to refer to any round, orange squash (mostly belonging to the species Cucurbita pepo and Cucurbita maxima)Any edible herbaceous vine that belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family; its color and shape can vary depending on its species
Can be eaten and also be used as a decoration for autumnMainly used for culinary purposes and infrequently used as an ornament