John T. Willis

Friday, November 06, 2009


As we move through Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, a favorite throughout the United States is pumpkins. Evelyn and I buy several pumpkins in this season, and Evelyn makes wonderful pumpkin bread and pumpkin pies, usually mixed with nuts. She usually distributes these to many people in this community.

Pumpkin is a kind of squash of the genus Cucurbita and the family Cucurbitaceae. Pumpkins are usually orange or yellos and have many creases running from the stem to the bottom. They have a thick shell on the outside and seeds and pulp on the inside.

The English word "pumpkin" comes from the Greek word "pepon," meaning "large melon." The French adapted this word to "pompon," and the British changed this to "pumpion," and later American colonists changed this to "pumpkin."

Experts have found pumpkin-related seeds in Mexico dating between 7000 and 5500 B.C. Pumpkins range in size from 1 pound to over 1000 pounds. Most pumpkins range between 9-18 pounds up to a little over 75 pounds.

Pumpkins are monoecious, having both male and femal flowers on the same plant. The female flower is distinguished byt he small ovary at the base of the petals. These bright and colorful flowers have extremely short life spans and may only open for as short a time as one day. The main nutrients of pumpkins are lutein and both alpha and beta carotene, the latter of which generates vitamin A in the human body. Honeybees play a major role in the fertilization of pumpkins.

The only continent that does not have pumpkins is Antarctica. The largest international producers of pumpkins include the United States, Mexico, India, and China. The traditional American pumpkin is the Connecticus Field variety.

Pumpkins is one of the most popular crops in the United States. The USA produces 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins each year. The top producing states are Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California. Beginning in early July, it is easy to grow and produce pumpkins.

In 1981, Howard Dill of Nova Scotia produced a pumpkin of almost 500 pounds as a record. By 1994, the Giant Pumpkin crossed the 1,000 pound mark. The current record holder is Christ Harp's 1,725 Atlantic giant pumpkin, which won the Ohio Valley Pumpkin Growers annual weigh-off in October 2009.

Pumpkins are just another gift of God, our Creator. Pumpkins are "different" [like all of God's creations], intriguing, and very delicious.

I hope YOU enjoy and appreciate pumpkins. But far beyond that, I hope YOU appreciate God, the Creator of all that is.

Share YOUR thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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