The Seminole Pumpkin
By Noris Ledesma, Curator of Tropical Fruit
Seminole pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata) is well adapted to our Everglades, having exceptional tolerance to pests and diseases that will devastate the average pumpkin. For the American Indian, its domestication was paramount to their survival in Florida.
Seminole pumpkin is a vigorous, heat-resistant vine that can grow on a trellis or climb on a tree. This plant has been improved by the American Indian through selection and use over the centuries to be adapted to our Everglades, having exceptional tolerance to pests and diseases that will devastate the average pumpkin.
The Seminole pumpkin has a long, venerable history and is a logical choice for the South Florida gardener looking for an easy to grow pumpkin with a great taste and multiple uses.
The vines will climb on a trellis or a tree and can reach heights of 25 feet or more. Fruit set is best when the vine is within a tree or on a trellis; vines on the ground are poor fruiters.
The fruit have a deep orange flesh and are sweet and highly nutritious. They can be used as one would use any butternut squash, and for my taste there is no better pumpkin pie in the world than a Seminole pumpkin pie.
The pumpkins store well at cool room temperature and should be kept dry and out of the sun. Their shapes and colors are highly variable and lend themselves to fall decorating as well as eating. As the fruit mature, the vines will die. Seed should be collected and dried for later planting. The seeds are also an excellent food in themselves, roasted and lightly salted.
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