Pumpkins are the fruits of the gourd (Cucurbita) a creeping plant of the family of the cucurbitaceae, which includes other fruits such as melon (Cucurbita melo), watermelons (Citrullus vulgaris), cucumber (Cucumis sativus) and other wild as the exploding cucumber (Ecballium elaterium)
Pumpkin plants are creeping herbs up to 10 m. in length. Stems hairy, grooved, hollow inside. Leaves cordate, lobed, flowers unisexual, up to 10 cm. with the cup attached to the corolla, stamens, the male soldiers in the column. The pepo fruit varies in different shapes and colors according to the different varieties that can reach over 30 kg. The immature fruits are called courgettes.
There are world contests of giant pumpkins. They belong to the species Retort principle. The world's largest pumpkin in this species won a contest in the southern town of Manchester in USA in 2002 and weighed 606 kg)
Cultivation of pumpkin approximately starts back in the year 5000 BC in different parts of the world. It appears in the territory that now constitutes Mexico, before the emergence of civilization known as the Olmecs, Mayas and Aztecs.
These early cultures settled in the area and based their existence on the cultivation of squash, corn, beans and peppers. We also have archaeological references from the same period in the Yangtze Valley in China in a civilization that crops mainly rice and squash.
Some pumpkins are cultivated because of their extraordinay forms
Pumpkins in Europe
Spanish settlers were those who learned to cultivate in their contact with the natives and then brought to Spain, where its cultivation spread to other parts of Europe with temperate or warm climate.
There are smaller varieties, mainly devoted to the cultivation of squash, which can be grown anywhere in the world since withstand any climate.
In addition to food, in the excavations of prehistoric remains have been found spoons or containers made with pumpkin peel. Gourds have been used to carry out some old musical instruments. For example, prehistoric sites have been found in India 4500 years ago in which bells are made with pumpkins empty inside which were placed dry seeds.
Other oversized pumpkins are used for exhibitions and competition
Pumpkins in the culture of many places
Gourd is part of the traditional folklore of many people. Thus we have the Halloween pumpkins which fruit is the material for faces that are illuminated by placing lighted candles inside, forming what is known as "Halloween lanterns." (Almost all U.S. production is intended for the manufacture of this type of lantern)
Saving the wine pumpkin was of the element that formed part of the team of the pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. In Haiti, in 1800, these fruits were declared the official currency of the country. Subsequently "gourde" was the name given to the currency of this country and this word comes from the English word "gourd" meaning pumpkin.
In traditional Chinese music, the pumpkin was one of the materials used in the manufacture of instruments. The "carimba" is an Nicaraguan and Costa Rican instrument which resonance box consists of a pumpkin. The original banjo, which was imported from Africa to the U.S. by African slaves, was based on a pumpkin. The first maracas were made by tying a stick to this fruit, inside which were placed plant seeds. In reality, those derived from rattles and primitive made with the same method.