Different Types of Squash Plants
There are sooo many types of quash plants that all come in various shapes, sizes, and flavors! I LOVE growing several kinds of squash in my own garden. They’re versatile vegetables that can be enjoyed in a wide range of dishes, from soups and stews to roasted and grilled recipes. Today, I’m sharing popular types of squash, their characteristics, flavors & storage capabilities!
Summer squashes are known for their tender skin, mild flavor, and high water content. Harvest time for Summer Squashes is when they’re still immature, giving them a soft texture and edible skin. Summer squashes have a shorter shelf life compared to winter squashes. They are best consumed within a few days of harvest or purchase and should be stored in the refrigerator to maintain freshness. Here are a few common varieties:
Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo)
i always grow at least 1 Zucchini plant every year… They produce a TON of food! I’ve planted more than 1 in the past and had WAY more zucchini than we could eat or can! Yes, I can zucchini! I can Pineapple Zucchini, you’ve gotta try it!
This popular squash variety has a smooth, thin skin and a light green or yellow color. It offers a delicate flavor and is often used in salads, stir-fries, and as a substitute for pasta. Zucchini can be stored for about a week in the refrigerator.
Yellow Crookneck (Cucurbita pepo)
With its distinctive curved shape and bright yellow color, yellow crookneck squash adds visual appeal to dishes. It has a nutty flavor and pairs well with other summer vegetables. Yellow crookneck squash can be stored for up to five days in the refrigerator.
Yellow Squash Yellow squash is actually a type of summer squash and belongs to the Cucurbita pepo species. It is characterized by its elongated shape and vibrant yellow skin. Yellow squash has a mild flavor with a hint of sweetness, and its tender flesh cooks quickly. It can be used in a variety of dishes, including sautés, stir-fries, casseroles, and even grilled preparations.
Yellow squash is often used interchangeably with zucchini due to their similar taste and texture. Both varieties can be harvested when young and tender. Yellow squash, like other summer squashes, has a relatively short shelf life compared to winter squashes. When stored properly in the refrigerator, yellow squash can last for about 3-5 days before it starts to deteriorate. In terms of cooking and culinary applications, yellow squash can be used in the same way as other summer squashes.
Its bright color and mild flavor make it a versatile ingredient that can be enjoyed in both raw and cooked forms. Whether sliced into salads, added to pasta dishes, or incorporated into various recipes, yellow squash adds a vibrant touch and contributes to the overall flavor and texture of the dish.To summarize, yellow squash is a type of summer squash with an elongated shape and vibrant yellow skin. It offers a mild, slightly sweet flavor and can be used in a variety of dishes. However, compared to winter squashes, yellow squash has a shorter storage life and is best consumed within a few days of harvest.
Pattypan Squash (C pepo)
This is my favorite summer squash for its texture and mild flavor! Also known as scallop squash, pattypan squash comes in various colors, including yellow, green, and white. It has a sweet, buttery flavor and a tender skin, making it suitable for grilling or sautéing. Pattypan squash can be stored for about a week in the refrigerator. It is named after its distinct scalloped edges and shallow depth, resembling a small flying saucer or a flattened pattypan shape.Pattypan squash comes in various colors, including yellow, green, and white. It has a tender skin and a delicate, buttery flavor.
The flesh of pattypan squash is creamy and smooth when cooked, making it a versatile ingredient in various culinary preparations. In terms of cooking, pattypan squash can be enjoyed in both raw and cooked forms. It can be sautéed, steamed, roasted, grilled, or used in soups, stews, stir-fries, and casseroles. Due to its unique shape, pattypan squash is often hollowed out and filled with stuffing, creating a visually appealing and tasty dish.
Pattypan squash is typically harvested when it is still young and tender for the best flavor and texture. Like other summer squashes, it is relatively perishable and should be used within a few days of harvest. Proper storage in the refrigerator can help extend its shelf life.
Zephyr squash is typically enjoyed during the summer months when it is in season. As a summer squash, Zephyr squash has a relatively short growing season and is harvested before it fully matures. It is characterized by its pale yellow base color with light green stripes running along its length, creating an attractive appearance.
The flavor of Zephyr squash is mild, slightly sweet, and nutty, which is a common characteristic of summer squashes. In culinary applications, Zephyr squash can be used in similar ways to other summer squash varieties such as zucchini and yellow crookneck squash. It can be sliced, sautéed, grilled, roasted, or used in salads, stir-fries, and other dishes. Its tender flesh cooks quickly and retains a firm texture, making it suitable for a variety of cooking methods.
40 Types of Summer Squash
- Yellow crookneck squash
- Pattypan squash (also known as scallop squash)
- Cousa squash
- Sunburst squash
- Zephyr squash
- Ronde de Nice squash
- Eight Ball squash
- Costata Romanesco squash
- White scallop squash
- Benning’s Green Tint squash
- Lebanese squash
- Yellow straightneck squash
- Tromboncino squash
- Magda squash
- Golden Egg squash
- Cocozelle squash
- Romanesco zucchini
- Peter Pan squash
- Yellow summer squash (generic term for various yellow-skinned summer squashes)
- Yellow zucchini
- Golden zucchini
- Grey zucchini
- Lebanese white bush squash
- Golden scallop squash
- Tatume squash
- Magda zucchini
- Cocozelle zucchini
- Raven zucchini
- Peter Pan scallop squash
- Sunstripe squash
- Clarimore squash
- Costata Romanesco zucchini
- Yellow pattypan squash
- Bennings Green Tint pattypan squash
- Romanesco pattypan squash
- Gold Rush zucchini
- President zucchini
- Nimba zucchini
- Black Beauty zucchini
I LOVE winter squash because they LAST SO LONG! They’re great food storage. They also have a starchier texture than summer squash, which I love! Winter squashes are harvested when fully mature, resulting in a hard rind and longer storage life. They are characterized by their sweet flavor and dense flesh, making them ideal for roasting, baking, and soups. Here are a few types of winter squash varieties:
Butternut Squash (Cucurbita moschata)
This is one of my favorite winter squash! It’s so good roasted with maple syrup or made into Butternut squash soup! With its elongated shape, pale orange skin, and sweet, nutty flavor, butternut squash is a versatile option in the kitchen. It can be roasted, pureed, or used in soups. Butternut squash stores well and can last up to 6 months in a cool, dry place.
One squash variety that was highly valued and widely cultivated by Native Americans is the Cucurbita moschata, a type of butternut squash commonly known as the “Tahitian” or “Seminoles” squash. This squash variety has a hard, greenish-gray skin and a sweet, nutty flavor. It is known for its resistance to pests, diseases, and harsh growing conditions, making it suitable for different regions.
The popularity of squash among Native Americans can be attributed to several factors:
- Nutritional Value: Squashes, including the Cucurbita species, are rich in nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. They provided a valuable source of sustenance and contributed to the overall nutritional balance of Native American diets.
- Storage and Preservation: Winter squash varieties, such as the Cucurbita maxima and Cucurbita moschata, have thick rinds that allow for long-term storage. This made them important food resources during the winter months when fresh produce was scarce.
- Companion Planting: Native Americans practiced companion planting, which involved growing corn, beans, and squash together. The corn provided support for the climbing beans, while the squash leaves acted as a living mulch, preventing weed growth and retaining soil moisture.
- Sustainable Agriculture: The Three Sisters combination of corn, beans, and squash created a sustainable agricultural system. The corn stalks provided vertical support for the beans, the beans fixed nitrogen in the soil, benefiting the corn and squash, and the large leaves of the squash provided shade, reducing moisture loss and weed competition.
- Cultural and Spiritual Significance: Squashes held cultural and spiritual significance for many Native American tribes. They were often used in traditional ceremonies, rituals, and feasts, symbolizing fertility, abundance, and a connection to the land.
Acorn Squash (Cucurbita pepo)
Acorn squash (also one of my favorite for its sweet flavor) has a distinct acorn-like shape, deep green skin, and sweet, slightly nutty flavor. You should try caramelizing it with butter and brown sugar! It is often baked or stuffed with savory fillings. Acorn squash can be stored for up to three months in a cool, dry place.
Delicata Squash (Cucurbita pepo)
Delicata squash features yellow or cream-colored skin with green stripes. It has a creamy, sweet flesh and a mild flavor reminiscent of sweet potatoes. Delicata squash can be stored for about a month in a cool, dry place.
Kabocha Squash (C maxima)
Kabocha squash comes from Japan, it has a round shape, thick green skin, and vibrant orange flesh. It offers a sweet, rich flavor and a smooth texture. Kabocha squash can be stored for up to three months in a cool, dry place.
Buttercup Squash (Cucurbita maxima)
Buttercup squash has a dark green skin and a deep orange flesh. It has a sweet, nutty flavor and a moist texture. Buttercup squash can be stored for up to four months in a cool, dry place.
Hubbard Squash (Cucurbita maxima)
Hubbard squash comes in various colors, including deep green, pale orange, and gray-blue. It has a rich, sweet flavor and a dry texture, making it suitable for pies and purees. Hubbard squash can be stored for up to six months in a cool, dry place.
Pumpkins are specifically classified under the genus Cucurbita. While pumpkins are commonly associated with their traditional use as decorative items during Halloween and Thanksgiving, they are also edible and can be cooked and enjoyed in various dishes. In terms of flavor and culinary usage, pumpkins share similarities with certain winter squashes. They have a sweet, earthy flavor and a dense, fibrous flesh that lends itself well to baking, roasting, making soups, pies, and other desserts.
There are so many different varieties of pumpkins, each with its own unique characteristics. Some pumpkin varieties are specifically bred for culinary purposes, while others are primarily grown for ornamental purposes. The smaller “sugar pumpkins” or “pie pumpkins” are often preferred for making pumpkin pies due to their sweeter flavor and smoother texture.
The Best Types of Squash for Pumpkin Pie
In my opinion, the best type of pumpkin or squash for pumpkin pie is the classic “sugar pumpkin” (Cucurbita pepo). Sugar pumpkins are smaller, sweeter, and have a smoother texture compared to other pumpkin varieties. They are specifically bred for culinary purposes and are often referred to as pie pumpkins or baking pumpkins.
Sugar pumpkins have a rich, sweet flavor and a vibrant orange flesh that blends smoothly when pureed. They provide a traditional and authentic taste for pumpkin pies. Their texture is dense and smooth, which contributes to a creamy and velvety pie filling.
While other winter squash varieties like butternut squash or Hubbard squash can be used in pumpkin pie recipes as well, they may have slightly different flavors and textures compared to the classic sugar pumpkin. They can still produce delicious pies with their unique characteristics, but sugar pumpkins are generally the best for classic pumpkin pie taste!
40 Types of Winter Varieties:
- Butternut squash
- Acorn squash
- Spaghetti squash
- Delicata squash
- Hubbard squash
- Kabocha squash
- Buttercup squash
- Red Kuri squash (also known as Hokkaido squash or Uchiki kuri squash)
- Blue Hubbard squash
- Sweet Dumpling squash
- Cinderella squash
- Banana squash
- Jarrahdale squash
- Marina di Chioggia squash
- Long Island Cheese squash
- Rouge Vif d’Etampes squash (also known as Cinderella pumpkin)
- Lakota squash
- Queensland Blue squash
- Waltham Butternut squash
- Fairytale pumpkin
- Queensland Blue squash
- Burgess Buttercup squash
- Musquee de Provence squash
- Sweet Mama squash
- Thelma Sanders squash
- Honeynut squash
- Early Butternut squash
- Autumn Cup squash
- Ambercup squash
- Tetsukabuto squash
- Long Island Cheese pumpkin
- Marina di Chioggia pumpkin
- Jarrahdale pumpkin
- White Acorn squash
- Golden Nugget squash
- Golden Hubbard squash
- Table Queen Acorn squash
- Green Hubbard squash
- Red Warty Thing pumpkin
- Sweet Lightning pumpkin
Other Types of Squash Squash Varieties
In addition to the summer and winter squashes mentioned above, there are several other types of squash worth exploring:
- Spaghetti Squash (Cucurbita pepo): Named for its stringy flesh that resembles spaghetti when cooked, spaghetti squash has a mild, nutty flavor. It can be used as a low-carb alternative to pasta. Spaghetti squash can be stored for up to two months in a cool, dry place.
- Sweet Dumpling Squash (Cucurbita pepo): Sweet dumpling squash is small and round with pale green skin and orange flesh. It has a sweet flavor similar to sweet potatoes. Sweet dumpling squash can be stored for about a month in a cool, dry place.
- Red Kuri Squash (Cucurbita maxima): Red kuri squash has a teardrop shape, vibrant red skin, and sweet, nutty flesh. It is delicious roasted, pureed, or used in pies and desserts. Red kuri squash can be stored for up to three months in a cool, dry place.
These are just a few examples of the diverse squash varieties available. Remember to check your hardiness zone and growing conditions to ensure the best results when cultivating squash plants in your garden.
Bush Types of Squash Plants
Squash plants can be broadly categorized into two different kinds of squash plants based on their growth habit: bush squash and vining squash.
Bush squash plants, also known as compact or bush-type squash, have a more compact and bushy growth habit. These plants tend to have a more restricted spread and do not typically produce long trailing vines. Instead, they grow in a more compact manner, taking up less space in the garden. Examples of bush squash include some varieties of summer squash, such as zucchini and yellow crookneck squash, as well as certain varieties of winter squash like acorn squash.
Vining Types of Squash Plants
Vining squash plants, also referred to as trailing or squash plants with long vines. They have a sprawling growth habit with long, trailing vines that can spread across a larger area. These plants tend to require more space in the garden or may be trained to climb trellises or supports. Examples of vining squash include some varieties of winter squash like butternut squash and spaghetti squash.
It’s important to note that while some squash plants are predominantly bush-type or vining-type, there can be variations and exceptions within each category. Some squash varieties may exhibit semi-bush or semi-vining growth habits, falling somewhere in between the two categories.
Bush vs. Vining Types of Squash
The choice between bush or vining squash plants often depends on factors such as available space, garden layout, and personal preferences. Bush squash plants are often favored for their compact nature, making them suitable for smaller gardens or container gardening. Vining squash plants, on the other hand, can be advantageous in larger spaces where the vines have room to spread and trail.
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