From pulp to peduncle: Parts of a pumpkin

By Brandie Piper

Ornamental pumpkins are the variety that is synonymous with autumn, Halloween carvings, and Thanksgiving. But do you know the names of the essential parts of this famous squash?

Peduncle

Most people probably refer to it as the pumpkin’s “stem” or “handle,” but the technical term is peduncle. The peduncle connects the pumpkin to the vine, and the quality of the peduncle determines the quality of the rest of the pumpkin. According to Purdue University’s Department of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture, insects and diseases can weaken the peduncle, which can make the rest of the pumpkin suffer.

Tendrils

These support the pumpkin and minimize vine movement, allowing the pumpkin to stay in one place. The tendrils reach out and wrap around whatever is nearby – other plants, grass, or man-made structures. This also helps pumpkins survive harsh weather that could jostle them around.

Pulp

Ornamental pumpkins are rather hollow, with an inch or two of “meat” inside the rind and stringy pulp sprinkled with seeds. When the pulp is cleaned out the seeds can be separated, roasted and eaten. A common misperception is that the meat of these ornamental carving pumpkins is where pumpkin puree comes from, but it actually comes from squash, or sometimes pie pumpkins.

Pie pumpkins are typically bred specifically for cooking and tend to be sweeter and meatier. They have a thicker flesh, which helps them stay fresh for a long period of time.

Ribs

Aside from their orange color, vertical lines, or “ribs,” on the skin are another distinguishing characteristic of pumpkins. They can have shallow ribbing, deep ribbing, or sometimes a combination of the two, and represent each row of seeds inside the pumpkin.

Pumpkin facts

Now that you know the names of the parts of a pumpkin, here’s a little history:

Published Oct. 9, 2015 on Discover.Monsanto.com.