6 Fun Facts about Pumpkins

Happy Halloween Eve! Pumpkins and jack-o'-lanterns have been popping up all over porches for at least a month now. How much do you know about these popular autumnal squashes? Here are six fun facts you may not know.

  1. Pumpkins are a type of squash. The botanical name for their category of fruit (bonus fact: in scientific terms, pumpkins are fruits, although for culinary purposes it’s considered a vegetable) is cucurbit, and the larger family also includes gourds, melons, and cucumbers.

  2. Pumpkins can grow on every continent except for Antarctica. They were originally cultivated thousands of years ago in the region we now know as Mexico. Today, the U.S. is one of the biggest pumpkin producers globally, along with Mexico, Canada, China, and India.

  3. Pumpkins are pollinated by native bee species and honeybees. While honeybee populations are on the rise again in the U.S., native bees such as the rusty patch bumblebee are in danger. Learn more about what they're facing and how you can help.

  4. Jack-o'-lanterns are made from pumpkins today, but they originally come from Ireland where they were made from potatoes and turnips. Learn more about the legend behind this Halloween tradition here.

  5. The word "pumpkin" is an American development. It started out as pepon, a Greek word that means "large melon". In France, it became "pompon". The Brits changed it "pumpion". In the American colonies, the word transformed one more time to land at "pumpkin".

  6. The current record-holder for world's largest pumpkin is a 2,624.6 lb squash grown in 2016 by Belgian grower Mathias Willemijns. That’s about 800 lbs more than a smart car!

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