Plant of the Month: June

Seminole Pumpkin, Plant of the Month UF IFAS Extension University of Florida, Florida Master Gardener Volunteer

The Seminole pumpkin is a variety of the Cucurbita moschata species, which also includes the butternut squash and the calabaza squash (Cuban pumpkin). It originated on South Florida’s tropical riverbanks and swampland hammocks. Naples discovered that Seminole pumpkins were a staple crop for the Calusa, Creek, and Miccosukee Native American tribes and is an important part of Florida’s state heritage.

According to Seminole farms, Florida Native American tribes would plant the pumpkin seeds at the base of trees, so that the pumpkin vines would grow up the trunks, and the pumpkin fruit would grow to be hanging from the bare limbs.

The Seminole pumpkin is a hardy, prolific, and an unusual vegetable, and is larger than an acorn-winter squash. Eat the Weeds describes the fruit as variable in form and size, and hard-shelled when mature, and it keeps at room temperature for months. The fruit is mostly oblong with colors that vary from green to yellowish orange with an incredibly hard shell or rind. The pumpkins generally weigh around 8 – 10 pounds with 6 – 10 inches in diameter. The sweet flesh of the pumpkin is meaty, not stringy, and it can be sun-dried, baked, or fried.

The Seminole pumpkin is a vigorous climber and can be grown with a trellis or it can be grown on the ground like common pumpkin varieties. Off Beet Gardener describes the Seminole pumpkin as highly productive, and amazingly naturally resistant to insects and disease.

In South Florida, Seminole pumpkins can be planted in the spring or fall, however in North and Central Florida they should be planted exclusively in the spring. Lots of space is also needed to grow this pumpkin because the vines can grow up to 25 feet. The maturation time is 60 to 90 days after planting, which is just in time for a fall harvest.

If you want to try to make a very different kind of pumpkin bread, consider the Seminole pumpkin bread recipe. The bread is more like an empanada or fritter.

By Cheris on June 21, 2022