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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Cucurbita moschata (Butternut)

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Rosids > Eurosid I > Order: Cucurbitales > Family: Cucurbitaceae


Butternut. [photo H. Robertson, Iziko ]


Cucurbita moschata was domesticated from a wild species in the region from southern Mexico to northern and western South America. Archaeological remains dating to about 2000 BC have been found in Peru. There are varieities other than Butternut but the latter is the most commonly encountered in southern Africa. Butternut is cooked and eaten as a vegetable and is commonly made into a tasty soup.


  • Sauer, J.D. 1993. Historical geography of crop plants - a select roster. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida.

  • van Wyk, B.-E. 2005. Food Plants of the World - Identification, Culinary Uses and Nutritional Value. Briza, Pretoria.

Text by Hamish Robertson