Despite being the most dissected fruit of the day, the anatomy of a pumpkin is rarely treated with scientific interest, and subsequently, even pumpkin carvers themselves find it difficult to put a name to whatever they are cutting.
A proper understanding of the names and parts of a pumpkin makes it easier for people to communicate when talking about pumpkins and also for giving instructions on how to carve their own pumpkin.
The pumpkin is like a typical fruit, with a stem attached to the fruit. However, pumpkins are vines and so leaves are sometimes attached to its stems. The stem can be green to brown in color depending on how ripe the fruit is.
The stem provides the fruit with nutrients from the plant and as the plant ripens it will turn brown. Ripe pumpkins will fall off the dead brown stem, so don’t carry pumpkins by their stem or they will break.
Pumpkins are vine plants, so they grow thin hairline appendages called tendrils which twist around objects to anchor the vine and protect it. These tendrils are sometimes also found on the stem of the pumpkin. They make good aesthetic decorations on your jack o’lantern so most people leave them where they are.
Perhaps the most characteristic feature of a pumpkin is the indented ridges that run from the top of the fruit to its bottom. These ridges are also known as ribs. The ribs improve the mechanical strength of the fruit and allow it to withstand its large size and heavy weight.
All fruits will have a blossom end which is usually a scar at the bottom of the fruit. Before there was a fruit, there was a flower. The flower was pollinated and later developed into a fruit. As the fruit develops, the flower dies off and leaves behind a scar called the blossom end.
The shiny orange or yellow layer on the outer most part of the pumpkin is called the skin or the rind. It is a tough protective layer that keeps insects and other diseases out from the fruit. It can be eaten, but it is not palatable so most people do not use it for food.
Underneath the skin is the pulp which is commonly known as the meat. This is the part which is used for cooking and eaten, but pulp is the correct word to use since meat refers more to protein rich animal meat.
At the center of the pumpkin is a portion that is different from the texture of the pulp. This is known as the cavity. Inside the cavity includes the fibrous strands, together with all the mushy mass of slimy strings and its seeds.
Each pumpkin contains hundreds of seeds and these are both nutritious and also rich in oil. The seeds can be roasted to become a snack and its oil is also extracted for use as a condiment. Each seed is surrounded by a seed coat which is the outer layer of the seed. Inside the seed coat is the nut which is the real part of the seed that will actually develop into a new pumpkin plant.
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