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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Cucurbita pepo (Gem Squash, Marrow, Courgette)

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

germ squash

Gem squash

Cucurbita pepo was domesticated in North America from wild Cucurbita texana, occurring in the south central USA, and Cucurbita fraterna, occurring in northeastern Mexico. It has angled stems with prickles whereas those of Cucurbita maxima (Pumpkin, Hubbard squash) are soft and rounded. From archeological excavations in Mexico, domestication can be dated back to about 8000 BC. Squashes were introduced to Europe by returning Spanish explorers in the 1500's. They are eaten cooked as a vegetable. The seeds are nutritious in that they are rich in zinc and omega 3 oils.


  • 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