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Winter Squash Cucurbita maxima

Phonetic Spelling
koo-KER-bih-ta MAKS-ih-muh
Description

Cucurbita maxima, commonly referred to as winter squash, is a warm-season annual vegetable vine that trails along the ground or climbs up structures using tendrils. It has yellow fruit-bearing flowers that are produced in the fall. The fruits have a mild flavor and can be fried, baked, added to pasta, used in soups, and more. Native to Central and South America, winter squash is an aggressive grower and prefers moderately moist soil with full access to sunlight. 

Winter squash is best suited for large landscapes, but performs well in vegetable gardens, on trellises, and as a cover for exposed soil.  It is easily sown from seed, especially when soils are warm. Cucurbita maxima should be transplanted in late spring, early summer, or after the last frost. 

Pests, Insects, and Other Plant Problems: Slugs, aphids, and beetles

 

Cucurbita is Latin for gourd

maxima is Latin for largest

 

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Edibles, Bulbs, and Houseplants" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.   

More information on Cucurbita.

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See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Buttercup'
    Buttercup Squash
  • 'Butternut'
    Butternut Squash
  • 'Rouge Vif d'Etampes'
  • 'Turbaniformis'
    Turban Squash
  • var. Banana
    Banana Squash
  • var. Hubbard
    Hubbard Squash
'Buttercup', 'Butternut', 'Rouge Vif d'Etampes', 'Turbaniformis', var. Banana, var. Hubbard
Tags:
#sun#showy flowers#full sun#annual#edible plant#easy to grow#wildlife plant#showy#yellow flowers#edible flowers#colorful#tendrils#large leaves#mass planting#seeds#showy fruits#fast growing#herbaceous#well-drained soil#full sun flowers#organic soils#vines#full sunlight#vegetable garden#herbaceous vine#yellow fruits#prickly#edible landscaping#attractive foliage#coarse#annuals#groundcover#annual flowers#edible fruits#fall fruits#sunshine#vegetable#edible garden#orange fruits#vertical spaces#green leaves#edible#herbaceous annual#annual vegetable#white fruits#flowering vine#loamy soils tolerant#fruits#colorful fruits#rough leaves#loam#vine#fruits early fall#fruit#seed#loamy soil#warm season vegetable#wildlife plants#flowering#flower#wildlife#large plant#sun tolerant#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#flowers#edible fruit#non-toxic for cats
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Buttercup'
    Buttercup Squash
  • 'Butternut'
    Butternut Squash
  • 'Rouge Vif d'Etampes'
  • 'Turbaniformis'
    Turban Squash
  • var. Banana
    Banana Squash
  • var. Hubbard
    Hubbard Squash
'Buttercup', 'Butternut', 'Rouge Vif d'Etampes', 'Turbaniformis', var. Banana, var. Hubbard
Tags:
#sun#showy flowers#full sun#annual#edible plant#easy to grow#wildlife plant#showy#yellow flowers#edible flowers#colorful#tendrils#large leaves#mass planting#seeds#showy fruits#fast growing#herbaceous#well-drained soil#full sun flowers#organic soils#vines#full sunlight#vegetable garden#herbaceous vine#yellow fruits#prickly#edible landscaping#attractive foliage#coarse#annuals#groundcover#annual flowers#edible fruits#fall fruits#sunshine#vegetable#edible garden#orange fruits#vertical spaces#green leaves#edible#herbaceous annual#annual vegetable#white fruits#flowering vine#loamy soils tolerant#fruits#colorful fruits#rough leaves#loam#vine#fruits early fall#fruit#seed#loamy soil#warm season vegetable#wildlife plants#flowering#flower#wildlife#large plant#sun tolerant#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#flowers#edible fruit#non-toxic for cats
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Cucurbita
    Species:
    maxima
    Family:
    Cucurbitaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Annual
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    South America
    Play Value:
    Attractive Flowers
    Colorful
    Easy to Grow
    Edible fruit
    Wildlife Food Source
    Climbing Method:
    Tendrils
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Annual
    Edible
    Ground Cover
    Vegetable
    Vine
    Habit/Form:
    Climbing
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Coarse
    Appendage:
    Tendrils
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3b, 3a, 4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a, 10b, 10a, 11b, 11a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Blue
    Cream/Tan
    Gold/Yellow
    Gray/Silver
    Orange
    Pink
    Red/Burgundy
    Variegated
    White
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Length:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    > 3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    Soft or hard-shelled berries called pepos come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes and are harvested in the fall. The stems of the fruits generally have a soft corky texture compared to other species.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Solitary
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Funnel
    Star
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Size:
    3-6 inches
    Flower Description:
    Large, pale to deep yellow flowers. Monecious, with separate male and female flowers on the same plant.
  • Leaves:
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Prickly
    Rough
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Orbicular
    Peltate
    Reniform
    Leaf Margin:
    Lobed
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Large, simple leaves that are often rough and prickly. Alternate arrangement with palmate lobing and venation, although is often only shallowly lobed.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Dark green in color.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Vertical Spaces
    Landscape Theme:
    Edible Garden
    Design Feature:
    Mass Planting
    Small groups