A pumpkin is a cultivar of the squash plant, predominantly of the Cucurbita pepo species, known for its characteristic round shape, smooth, slightly ribbed skin, and deep yellow to orange color. Its thick shell houses the seeds and pulp. Certain large squash varieties with similar appearances are also derived from the Cucurbita maxima species.
In some cases, specific cultivars of winter squash from other species, including C. argyrosperma, and C. moschata, are also referred to as “pumpkin”. Notably, in New Zealand and Australian English, the term “pumpkin” typically denotes the broader category known as winter squash in other regions.
Originally native to North America, pumpkins are widely cultivated for commercial purposes and are utilized in both culinary and recreational contexts. As a food, pumpkins are most recognized for their role in making pumpkin pie, a conventional part of Thanksgiving meals in the United States. However, commercially prepared pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie fillings are often made from different types of winter squash rather than the pumpkin varieties commonly carved as jack o’lanterns for Halloween decorations. Whether for festive feasts or autumnal decorations, pumpkins hold a cherished place in many cultures.