Map of the Week: Pumpkin Production by State, 2012
It is almost Halloween, which means that many American homes will be decorated with pumpkins, and many families will have pumpkin pies and so forth. Pumpkins are traditionally a symbol of the annual Halloween celebration. Here are some facts about this cultivated Native American squash:
- Pumpkins are usually orange but can sometimes be yellow, white, green or red.
- The name pumpkin comes from the Greek word πέπων [pepon] , meaning ‘large melon’.
- Pumpkins have thick shells which contain pulp and seeds.
- Scientifically speaking, pumpkins are a fruit (they contain seeds) but when it comes to cooking, they are often referred to as vegetables.
- Pumpkins are usually shaped like a sphere (ball).
- They vary in weight but an average sized pumpkin might weigh around 13 pounds (6 kilograms).
- Giant pumpkins can be grown for competitions, with some weighing over 1000 pounds! (450 kilograms). In 2010, the world record was 1810 pounds! That’s huge!!
- Pumpkin plants feature both male and female flowers, with bees typically being involved in pollination (the transfer of pollen).
- Over 1 billion pounds (450 million kgs) of pumpkin are produced in the US every year.
- As a food, pumpkin can be baked, roasted, steamed or boiled.
- Pumpkin soup is popular, as are roasted pumpkin seeds.
- Pumpkin pie is a sweet dessert that originates in North America and is traditionally eaten during harvest time and holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.
- Pumpkins are popular decorations during Halloween. A carved pumpkin illuminated by candles is known as a ‘jack-o-lantern’. The tradition is believed to have come from Ireland, where they used to carve faces into turnips, beet and other root vegetables as part of the Gaelic festival of Samhain.
- 100 grams of pumpkin produces around 26 calories of energy.
In honor of this Halloween, the American Geographical Society made a map of pumpkin cultivated area per state, based on the Agricultural Census Data (2012).