Herb: Pumpkin

Latin name: Cucurbita pepo

Family: Cucurbitaceae (Cucumber Family, Gourd Family)

Medicinal use of Pumpkin:

The pumpkin has been much used as a medicine in Central and North America. It is a gentle and safe remedy for a number of complaints, especially as an effective tapeworm remover for children and pregnant women for whom stronger acting and toxic remedies are unsuitable. The seeds are mildly diuretic and vermifuge. The complete seed, together with the husk, is used to remove tapeworms. The seed is ground into a fine flour, then made into an emulsion with water and eaten. It is then necessary to take a purgative afterwards in order to expel the tapeworms or other parasites from the body. As a remedy for internal parasites, the seeds are less potent than the root of Dryopteris felix-mas, but they are safer for pregnant women, debilitated patients and children. The seed is used to treat hypertrophy of the prostate. The seed is high in zinc and has been used successfully in the early stages of prostate problems. The diuretic action has been used in the treatment of nephritis and other problems of the urinary system. The leaves are applied externally to burns. The sap of the plant and the pulp of the fruit can also be used. The fruit pulp is used as a decoction to relieve intestinal inflammation.

Description of the plant:

Annual Climber

60 cm
(2 feet)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Not known in the wild.

Edible parts of Pumpkin:

Fruit - cooked. Used as a vegetable, it has a very mild flavour and is very watery. It is often harvested when still very young when it is called courgettes. The fruit has very little flavour of its own and so is often used as a base for making savoury dishes, the seeds being scooped out of the fruit and a filling being put in its place - this can then be baked. A nutritional analysis is available. Seed - raw or cooked. The seed can also be ground into a powder and mixed with cereals for making bread etc. Rich in oil with a pleasant nutty flavour but very fiddly to use because the seed is small and covered with a fibrous coat. A nutritional analysis is available. The seeds can also be sprouted and used in salads etc. Some caution is advised here, see notes above on toxicity. An edible oil is obtained from the seed. Leaves and young stems - cooked as a potherb. A nutritional analysis is available. Flowers and flower buds - cooked or dried for later use. A nutritional analysis is available. Root - cooked. We have some doubts on this report.

Other uses of the herb:

The seed contains 34 - 54% of a semi-drying oil. Used for lighting.

Propagation of Pumpkin:

Seed - sow April in a greenhouse in a rich soil. Germination should take place within 2 weeks. Sow 2 or 3 seeds per pot and thin out to the best plant. The seed requires a minimum temperature of 13C to germinate. Grow them on fast and plant out after the last expected frosts, giving them cloche or frame protection for at least their first few weeks outdoors until they are growing strongly.

Cultivation of the herb:

Not known in the wild.

Known hazards of Cucurbita pepo:

The sprouting seed produces a toxic substance in its embryo.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.