Squash, the name of several species and varieties of cucurbita, of the order cucurbitaceoe or gourd family, called by the North American Indians askutasquash. The characters of the family are given under Gourd, and those of the genus under Pumpkin. In no genus of cultivated plants is there more difficulty in tracing varieties to the species from which they are derived, or in ascertaining the countries in which they originated, than in cucur-bita, and in this country the terms pumpkin and squash are used very indefinitely, large forms of what are evidently squashes being-called pumpkins. Naudin, who experimented with over 1,200 living plants, could make but four distinct species, to all of which he ascribes an eastern origin; only three of these are cultivated in this country. On the other hand, Roger "Williams and other writers on early New England history found some cucurbita in general cultivation among the Indians, and we derive from them the common name by which the plants are known in this country.
One species, G. ovifera, is cultivated for ornament as orange gourd, mock orange, egg gourd, or fancy gourd, and rarely in vegetable gardens as egg squash, to be eaten while young; this, which in cultivation presents a great variety of shapes and markings, grows wild in Texas, and Gray thinks it is probably the original of all the crook-necked squashes, vegetable marrows, and even the common pumpkins. It will serve the present purpose to enumerate the leading varieties in cultivation, without attempting the difficult task of tracing them to their original species. - The ordinary early summer squashes are also called bush squashes; the vine has lost its tendency to run a long distance, the tendrils have disappeared, the petioles or leaf stalks are much longer than in any others, and the fruits all have angled stems; the most common of these are the scalloped bush sorts, in which the fruit is somewhat hemispherical with an expanded edge, which is deeply and regularly scalloped; of these there are varieties with the rind' pure white, yellow, green, green striped with white, and yellow marked with green; from their peculiar shape they are often called "pattypans," and in Virginia they are known as cym-lings. Another very distinct bush variety is the summer crook-neck, in which the fruit is about 8 in. long, largest near the base and tapering toward the stem, where it is usually curved; the skin is bright yellow, and nearly covered with warty protuberances; this is the best of the early varieties, all of which should be used while the rind is tender. - The late varieties all have strong running 'vines, extending 12 ft. or more, and taking root at the joints; they differ in their times of ripening and in their keeping qualities, but all of them, even if taken when quite young, are better for the table than any of the bush sorts.
The Canada crook-neck is small, with a curved neck, and cream yellow or darker when ripe; the skin never gets very hard. The winter crook-neck is many times larger, and though not so fine in quality is more generally cultivated, and both with care will keep the year round; both have angled stems, which indicate a relationship with the bush sorts, as have the various vegetable marrows, which are almost the only squashes of English gardens. The fruit of the marrows is elliptical, 9 in. or more long, and of a pale straw color; there are several sub-varieties. The autumnal or Boston marrow has an egg-shaped fruit, pointed at each end, the stem large and fleshy, skin never becoming hard; color reddish at maturity; quality excellent. This has for a long time been regarded as the best of all winter varieties, but it is excelled by the Hubbard, which is somewhat similar in shape and in character of stem; the color of the often ribbed rind is clay-blue or olive-green, and it becomes so extremely hard that it requires to be cut with a hatchet; the flesh is thick, dry, and sweet; it keeps till spring. The Butman is similar in form, skin white and green, and regarded as the finest of all.
The Yokohama, from Japan, is a singularly flattened variety, with a much warted green skin, which turns to orange; this has a very long and angled stem. The turban variety is of good quality, and is remarkable for a projection of a portion of the fruit beyond the line which shows where the calyx tube was attached to the ovary.
1. Crook-neck Squash. 2. Scalloped Squash.
Winter Squash - the Hubbard.