Calabaza (West Indian pumpkin) is a large winter squash (Cucurbita moschata) that resembles a pumpkin and is typically grown in the West Indies and tropical America. The term is also used loosely for a variety of gourds from Africa, the Americas and the Caribbean.
Calabaza are squash-like vegetables that look like pumpkins and taste like sweet potatoes.
The word calabaza is derived from the Persian term for melon (kharbuz). The French term "calabasse", and hence the English "calabash", is based on the older Spanish. In common use "calabash" refers to a gourd native to the African continent, while "calabaza" refers to a gourd native to the Americas. In North America, the word "calabaza" refers to any of several species of tropical gourds of the genus Cucurbita.
First cultivated for food in pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica as one of the "three sisters" of squash, maize, and climbing beans (typically tepary beans or common beans). Cultivated species produce gourds in a variety of shapes. However all are creeping, annual tropical vines with large lobed leaves and branching tendrils. The skin color reflects hybrids, varying from dark green to light yellow. The flesh can also vary in color, but most common is bright orange or yellow. Varieties differ in taste and texture.
Vines grow to 50-foot lengths. Set the pumpkins on a dry surface to protect them from bugs and worms.
Not only the fruit, but the blooms and several parts of the plant are edible.
Unlike the Seminole pumpkin, calabaza vines are susceptible to downey mildew and encounter a disorder called silverleaf caused by the sweet potato white fly. Both Seminole pumpkin and calabaza are comfortable in hot weather conditions. The leaves are green with mottled grey markings. It requires 3 months from seedling to harvesting the fruits.
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