Cucurbita

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squash

squash

(see also Pumpkin) Good source of beta carotene for cancer, (esp. lung cancer)You can eat the big yellow flowers from squash, zucchini and pumpkin, which look great in a salad (and taste good) but don't pick all the flowers or you will not get any squash. Remember- flowers become a fruit/ vegetable. Gourds, pumpkins, and squash are great storage foods for the winter. Squash fruit, leaves and stems can be eaten raw or steamed. The high carotene content makes them good protection against cancer, especially lung cancer, heart disease and type II diabetes. Squash juice helps prevent cell mutations and damaging effects from the sun.

Cucurbita

 

(pumpkins and squashes), a genus of annual and perennial plants of the family Cucurbitaceae. The stem is usually branching and running, although there are a number of bush forms. The leaves are large and downy, and the tendrils are usually branched. The flowers are declinous, large, and yellow. The fruit is a pepo of varying shape and coloration (see).

The Cucurbita, which include 13 species, are native to North and South America. The most commonly cultivated species are the winter squash (C. maxima), the field pumpkin (C. pepo), and the winter crookneck (C. moschata). They are grown on all continents, mainly between 50° N lat. and 30° S lat. In the USSR the largest areas under cucurbit cultivation are in the Northern Caucasus, the Volga Region, the Ukrainian SSR, and the Central Chernozem Region.

The winter squash has cylindrical stems and entire or slightly notched leaves. The fruits are large, reaching 40–50 kg in weight; they are usually flattened or spherical and most often white or gray. The rind is soft, and the yellow or orange interior is friable and slightly fibrous. Esculent varieties include Volzhskaia seraia 92 and Stolovaia zimniaia A-5; the highest-yielding feed varieties are Krupnoplodnaia 1 and Stofuntovaia.

The field pumpkin has diversely faceted, furrowed stems. The leaves are five-lobed, laciniate, and pointed. Both the stems and the leaves are covered with prickly spines. The fruits are usually oval-cylindrical. The smooth rind is yellow-orange, sometimes with yellow-green markings. The sweet flesh is orange or orange-red. Varieties include Altaiskaia 47, Mozoleevskaia 49, Biriuchekutskaia 27, the yellow-flowered gourd (var. ovifera), and the bush squash (var. patisson). The last two varieties are small ornamentals with irregularly shaped fruits having irregular markings and diverse coloring.

The winter crookneck is marked by stems and petioles with rounded facets. The five-lobed, slightly notched leaves are dark green with white spots. The fruits are usually pinkish brown or various shades of yellow. They are variously shaped: the pepos are elongate or, less commonly, club-shaped with a constriction. The rind is soft, and the flesh is orange, compact, and tender. Cultivated varieties include Vitaminnaia and Kashgarskaia 1644.

Cucurbit fruits contain 15–18 percent dry matter and 8–10 percent sugars. They also contain ascorbic acid, thiamine, riboflavin, nitrogenous compounds, and pectins. The seeds contain 20–40 percent oil. Esculent varieties are used in boiled, fried, or baked form; they are also used to make purees and candied rinds. The fruits are fed fresh to livestock or are ensiled with coarse feeds. One hundred kilograms contain about 12 feed units and about 1 kg of digestible protein. The seeds yield a cooking oil; they are also used in the production of preparations used medicinally as anthelminthics.

Cucurbits are thermophilic, heat tolerant, and drought resistant. They grow best in chernozems. The plants are raised in field and vegetable crop rotations and in remote fields. They are grown from seed in southern regions and from seedlings in the north. The rows are 2–3.5 m apart, and the distance between plants in a row is 1–1.5 m. Care involves thinning, loosening the soil between rows, the application of plant nutrients, sprinkling the runners with soil, and pinching off the ends. Harvesting is done before the onset of autumn frosts. The yield of fruits is 300–500 quintals per hectare (ha); with irrigation the yield reaches 1,000 quintals per ha. The yield of seeds is 80–120 kg/ha.

REFERENCES

Bakhchevodstvo. Under the general editorship of A. I. Filov. Moscow, 1959.
Bakhchevye kul’tury, vol. 3. Moscow, 1965.
Belik, V. F. Bakhchevye kul’tury. Moscow, 1975.

V. F. BELIK