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  • Writer's pictureKassi Kuppinger

Gourd vs Squash vs Pumpkin: What are the Differences?

Fall is nearly upon us, and if we are starting to think about pumpkins, fall decor, cozy sweaters, and Halloween costumes, we are sure you are too! In your fall decorating endeavors, have you ever stopped to think about the difference between a gourd, a pumpkin, and a squash? Are they all the same type of plant, or are they all different? Is a pumpkin a squash or a gourd? Or is a squash a pumpkin? Whether or not you have asked yourself these questions, we are here to answer them. So, strap in as we explore the similarities and differences between a gourd vs squash vs pumpkin.


Pumpkins and Gourds

Is A Pumpkin a Squash or a Gourd?

Taxonomic Rank Graphic

Did you know that pumpkins, squashes, and gourds are actually all part of the Cucurbitaceae family? The Cucurbitaceae family further consists of over 900 species within over 100 different genera. Cucumbers and melons are actually included in this big, happy family as well! Members of the Cucurbitaceae family, also referred to as cucurbits, are generally herbaceous vining plants, with some members such as the zucchini squash or yellow squash simply having very short vines.


What Is a Gourd?

Assortment of Gourds in a pile

The main thing that distinguishes gourds from other holiday decor is that gourds are primarily grown for decoration or for use in crafts. Though some gourd varieties such as the Snake Gourd can be eaten when young and tender, gourds in general are rarely cultivated for eating purposes, as many of them are bitter and stringy.


What Is a Pumpkin?

Assortment of Pumpkins

Many people consider pumpkins to be a type of squash, though since they are part of the same family, the main differences pertain to their size, shape, color, and use. In general, pumpkins are large and round with thick skin and meat that tends to be sweet, making them ideal for use in desserts and baked goods. While often grown for consumption, they are also very frequently grown for decorative purposes.


What Is a Squash?

Assortment of Squashes for sale

Squashes usually have a more oblong shape and are grown for consumption far more than they are grown for decorative use, though they can be used for both. Squashes are also generally used in entrees or side dishes that take on more savory flavors rather than sweet, though some varieties such as the butternut squash are known to be quite sweet as well.


Key Differences Between Gourd vs Squash vs Pumpkin

The lines that separate a gourd vs squash vs pumpkin, as you may already realize, can be quite blurry. They all have features and uses that cross over somewhat, and there is no real firm differentiator between the three. So, without getting too scientific, here are some ways to tell the difference between gourds, pumpkins, and squashes.


Size

Gourds tend to be small, while squash are more medium-sized, with pumpkins generally being the largest of the three. Pumpkins though, as we all know, can come in sizes smaller than both squash and gourds. In this case, we turn to the differences in shape.


Shape

Pumpkins generally are round and symmetrical, sitting squarely on their base. Squash tend to be oblong or pointed at their base, causing them to not sit flat like a pumpkin. Gourds are similar to squash in this way, growing in all sorts of odd shapes, often oblong or with crooked necks. Many varieties also feature horns, warts, or other deformities on their exterior. Where gourds and squash are similar, we look to their use to differentiate between the two.


Use

Squash are almost solely grown and used for culinary purposes, while gourds are almost strictly grown for decorative purposes. Pumpkins have use in both areas, with most varieties serving culinary uses as well as decorative uses.


Find Your Favorite Gourds, Pumpkins, and Squashes

The difference between pumpkins, gourds, and squash

If you love to decorate and cook with gourds, pumpkins, and squash during the fall season, find all your favorites at Bath Garden Center! We have all sorts of pumpkins for cooking, gourds for decorating, squashes for a variety of different meals, specialty pumpkins that are fun and unique, and so much more! Pumpkins will be here soon, so don't miss out this fall and take advantage of all of these delicious and eye-catching cucurbits!









Sources:


Miller, L. "The Differences Among Pumpkin and Squash and Gourds". The Gardening Knowhow. Date accessed: 15 September 2023. Web. 13 December 2022. Retrieved from: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/squash/pumpkin-squash-gourd-differences.htm

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