Cucurbita argyrosperma
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Cucurbitales
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Genus: Cucurbita
C. argyrosperma
Binomial name
Cucurbita argyrosperma
  • Cucurbita cyanoperizona (Pangalo) Bukasov
  • Cucurbita mixta Pangalo
  • Cucurbita moschata var. argyrosperma (C. Huber) Naudin
  • Cucurbita pepo var. sororia (L.H.Bailey) Filov
  • Cucurbita stenosperma (Pangalo) Bukasov

Cucurbita argyrosperma, also called the cushaw squash and silver-seed gourd, is a species of winter squash originally from the south of Mexico.[3][4] This annual herbaceous plant is cultivated in the Americas for its nutritional value: its flowers, shoots, and fruits are all harvested, but it is cultivated most of all for its seeds,[5] which are used for sauces. It was formerly known as Cucurbita mixta.[5][6]

It is a Cucurbita species, with varieties that are commonly cultivated in the United States as part of the Eastern Agricultural Complex[7] and Mexico south to Nicaragua. Of all the cultivated Cucurbita species it is the least found outside the Americas. It originated in Mesoamerica, most likely in the state of Jalisco, Mexico from its wild sororia form.[8] The reference genome of this species was published in 2019.[9]


The flowers are orange or yellow and bloom in July or August. The plant grows about 1 foot high and spreads 10–15 feet. It likes well drained soil and has both male and female flowers. Fruits can weigh up to 20 pounds.[4] The published results of an interspecific hybridization experiment in 1990 noted that as of that time Cucurbita argyrosperma was often grown in close proximity to Cucurbita moschata in Guatemala and Mexico.[10]


Cucurbita argyrosperma is classified into two subspecies: C. argyrosperma subsp. argyrosperma and C. argyrosperma subsp. sororia. C. argyrosperma subsp. sororia is believed to be the wild ancestor of the other forms.[11]

C. argyrosperma subsp. argyrosperma is further subdivided into C. argyrosperma subsp. argyrosperma var. argyrosperma , C. argyrosperma subsp. argyrosperma var. callicarpa, C. argyrosperma subsp. argyrosperma var. palmieri, and C. argyrosperma subsp. argyrosperma var. stenosperma.[11]

Subspecies Argyrosperma var. Palmieri

Cucurbita argyrosperma subsp. argyrosperma var. palmeri was formerly considered a separate species within Cucurbita.[11] It is found from the Pacific coast of northwestern Mexico to Nicaragua.[5] It was originally formally described by Liberty Hyde Bailey in 1943, in Gentes Herbarum.[5]

Subspecies Sororia

Cucurbita argyrosperma subsp. sororia was at one time considered a separate species within Cucurbita.[5] It ranges from northern Mexico to Nicaragua, mostly along the Pacific coast. This species was also considered at one time to be closely related to Cucurbita texana with which it hybridizes well.[3] It was formally described by Liberty Hyde Bailey in 1943, in Gentes Herbarum. In 1948, Cucurbita kellyana was described as an independent species, but this taxa is now considered a synonym for sororia.[5]


Variety is used here interchangeably with cultivar, but not with species or taxonomic variety.



The flowers, stems, shoots, and unripe fruits of the plant are consumed as vegetables.[15] In the south of Mexico, the wild, more bitter varieties are used in this same way, once washed and cleaned to eliminate cucurbitin. The ripe fruit is grilled to make pies or used to feed animals. The seeds yield an edible oil.[15]

It is also grown in the Sonoran Desert region of the Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico by native peoples, especially the Tohono O'odham, where it is especially prized when immature as a summer squash.

Medicinal properties

Cucurbita argyrosperma also has medicinal properties. A liquid emulsion of its seed can act as a vermifuge, and the subsequent use of a laxative can effect an expulsion of parasitic worms.[15][unreliable source?]

The Yucatán peasantry has traditionally used the flesh of Cucurbita argyrosperma to tend burns, sores, and eczema, while the seeds have been used with the aim of promoting lactation in nursing women, and provide pain relief.[11]


  1. ^ Castellanos Morales, G.; Sánchez de la Vega, G.; Aragón Cuevas, F.; Contreras, A.; Lira Saade, R. (2019). "Cucurbita argyrosperma". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2019: e.T20742586A20755871. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2019-2.RLTS.T20742586A20755871.en. Retrieved 18 November 2021.
  2. ^ "The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species".
  3. ^ a b Sanjur, Oris I.; Piperno, Dolores R.; Andres, Thomas C.; Wessel-Beaver, Linda (2002). "Phylogenetic Relationships among Domesticated and Wild Species of Cucurbita (Cucurbitaceae) Inferred from a Mitochondrial Gene: Implications for Crop Plant Evolution and Areas of Origin". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 99 (1). Washington, DC: National Academy of Sciences: 535–540. Bibcode:2002PNAS...99..535S. doi:10.1073/pnas.012577299. JSTOR 3057572. PMC 117595. PMID 11782554.
  4. ^ a b "Cucurbita argyrosperma". Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Nee, Michael (1990). "The Domestication of Cucurbita (Cucurbitaceae)". Economic Botany. 44 (3, Supplement: New Perspectives on the Origin and Evolution of New World Domesticated Plants). New York: New York Botanical Gardens Press: 56–68. doi:10.1007/BF02860475. JSTOR 4255271. S2CID 40493539.
  6. ^ Merrick, Laura C. "Characterization of Cucurbita argyrosperma, a Potential New Crop for Seed and Fruit Production". HortScience. 25 (9). American Society for Horticultural Science: 1141.
  7. ^ Fritz, Gayle J. (1994). "Precolumbian Cucurbita argyrosperma ssp. argyrosperma (Cucurbitaceae) in the Eastern Woodlands of North America". Economic Botany. 48 (3). New York Botanical Garden Press: 280–292. doi:10.1007/bf02862329. JSTOR 4255642. S2CID 20262842.
  8. ^ Barrera-Redondo, Josué; Sánchez-de la Vega, Guillermo; Aguirre-Liguori, Jonás A.; Castellanos-Morales, Gabriela; Gutiérrez-Guerrero, Yocelyn T.; Aguirre-Dugua, Xitlali; Aguirre-Planter, Erika; Tenaillon, Maud I.; Lira-Saade, Rafael; Eguiarte, Luis E. (December 2021). "The domestication of Cucurbita argyrosperma as revealed by the genome of its wild relative". Horticulture Research. 8 (1): 109. doi:10.1038/s41438-021-00544-9. PMC 8087764. PMID 33931618.
  9. ^ Barrera-Redondo, Josué; Ibarra-Laclette, Enrique; Vázquez-Lobo, Alejandra; Gutiérrez-Guerrero, Yocelyn T.; Sánchez de la Vega, Guillermo; Piñero, Daniel; Montes-Hernández, Salvador; Lira-Saade, Rafael; Eguiarte, Luis E. (April 2019). "The Genome of Cucurbita argyrosperma (Silver-Seed Gourd) Reveals Faster Rates of Protein-Coding Gene and Long Noncoding RNA Turnover and Neofunctionalization within Cucurbita". Molecular Plant. 12 (4): 506–520. doi:10.1016/j.molp.2018.12.023.
  10. ^ Wessel-Beaver, Linda. "Cucurbita argyrosperma Sets Fruit in Fields Where Cucurbita moschata is the only Pollen Source" (PDF). University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
  11. ^ a b c d Saade, R. Lira; Hernández, S. Montes. "Cucurbits". Purdue Horticulture. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
  12. ^ a b c d Goldman, Amy (2004). The compleat squash : a passionate grower's guide to pumpkins, squash, and gourds. Internet Archive. New York : Artisan. ISBN 978-1-57965-251-7.
  13. ^ a b Bachmann, Janet (2010). "Organic Pumpkin and Winter Squash Marketing and Production" (PDF). National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.
  14. ^ "PlantFiles: Cushaw Pumpkin, Winter Squash". Dave's Garden. Retrieved 2023-01-10.
  15. ^ a b c "Cucurbita argyrosperma – C.Huber". Plants for a Future. Retrieved September 14, 2013.