An assortment of winter squashes

Winter squash is an annual fruit representing several squash species within the genus Cucurbita. Late-growing, less symmetrical, odd-shaped, rough or warty varieties, small to medium in size, but with long-keeping qualities and hard rinds, are usually called winter squash.[1] They differ from summer squash in that they are harvested and eaten in the mature stage when their seeds within have matured fully and their skin has hardened into a tough rind. At this stage, most varieties of this vegetable can be stored for use during the winter. Winter squash is generally cooked before being eaten, and the skin or rind is not usually eaten as it is with summer squash.[2]

Cultivars of winter squash that are round and orange are called pumpkins. In New Zealand and Australian English, the term "pumpkin" generally refers to the broader category called "winter squash".[3]

Although winter squashes are grown in many regions, they are relatively economically unimportant, with few exceptions.[1] They are grown extensively in tropical America, Japan, Northern Italy, and certain areas of the United States.[1] The calabazas of the West Indies and the forms grown by the people of Mexico and Central America are not uniform, pure varieties but extremely variable in size, shape, and color.[1] Since these species are normally cross-pollinated, it is now difficult to keep a variety pure.[1]

Planting and harvesting

Squash is a frost-tender plant meaning that the seeds do not germinate in cold soil. Winter squash seeds germinate best when the soil temperature is 21 to 35 °C (70 to 95 °F), with the warmer end of the range being optimal.[4] It is harvested whenever the fruit has turned a deep, solid color and the skin is hard. Most winter squash is harvested in September or October in the Northern Hemisphere, before the danger of heavy frosts.[citation needed]

Nutritional value

Winter squash, all varieties, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy143 kJ (34 kcal)
Sugars2.2 g
Dietary fiber1.5g
0.13 g
0.95 g
Vitamin A equiv.
68 μg
820 μg
38 μg
Thiamine (B1)
0.04 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.062 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.5 mg
Pantothenic acid (B5)
0.188 mg
Vitamin B6
0.156 mg
Folate (B9)
24 μg
Vitamin C
12.3 mg
28 mg
0.58 mg
15 mg
0.164 mg
24 mg
350 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water90 g

Percentages estimated using US recommendations for adults,[5] except for potassium, which is estimated based on expert recommendation from the National Academies.[6]

Raw winter squash (such as acorn or butternut) is 90% water, 9% carbohydrates, 1% protein. It contains negligible fat (table), except in the oil-rich seeds. In a 100 gram reference amount, it supplies 34 calories and is a moderate source (10-19% of the Daily Value, DV) of vitamin C (15% DV) and vitamin B6 (12% DV), with no other micronutrients in significant content (table). It is also a source of the provitamin A carotenoid, beta-carotene.[7]

Subspecies, cultivars and varieties

Main article: List of gourds and squashes

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Cucurbita maxima

Cucurbita argyrosperma

Cucurbita moschata

Butternut squash is a variety of winter squash
Calabaza, a winter squash common in Cuba, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines

Cucurbita pepo

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Victor E. Boswell and Else Bostelmann. "Our Vegetable Travelers." The National Geographic Magazine. 96.2: August 1949.
  2. ^ "Winter Squash". University of Illinois Extension. Retrieved September 15, 2013.
  3. ^ Ferriol, María; Picó, Belén (2007). "3". Handbook of Plant Breeding: Vegetables I. New York: Springer. p. 317. ISBN 978-0-387-72291-7. The common terms "pumpkin", "squash", "gourd", "cushaw", "ayote", "zapallo", "calabaza", etc. are often applied indiscriminately to different cultivated species of the New World genus Cucurbita L. (Cucurbitaceae): C. pepo L., C.  maxima Duchesne, C. moschata Duchesne, C. argyrosperma C. Huber and C. ficifolia Bouché.
  4. ^ Nonnecke, Ib Libner (1989). Vegetable Production. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. p. 534. ISBN 0-442-26721-5.
  5. ^ United States Food and Drug Administration (2024). "Daily Value on the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels". FDA. Archived from the original on 2024-03-27. Retrieved 2024-03-28.
  6. ^ National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Food and Nutrition Board; Committee to Review the Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium (2019). Oria, Maria; Harrison, Meghan; Stallings, Virginia A. (eds.). Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium. The National Academies Collection: Reports funded by National Institutes of Health. Washington, DC: National Academies Press (US). ISBN 978-0-309-48834-1. PMID 30844154. Archived from the original on 2024-05-09. Retrieved 2024-06-21.
  7. ^ "Vitamin A". Micronutrient Information Center, Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University, Corvallis. 1 July 2016. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  8. ^ "Squash". What's Cooking America. Retrieved 2013-08-28.