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Erwin, 1930
Erwin, 1930

May 9, 1930 SCIENCE: VOL.LXXI, No. 1845, P 483-484


THE NATIVITY OF THE PUMPKINS
Various opinions have been expressed as to the nativity of C. pepo and C. moschata, our cultivated pumpkins. Some botanists regard them as of American origin and others as native to eastern Asia.

Since the plant has never been found in its natural habitat the subject has been one of speculation based upon certain terms of inexact meaning. Recently, however, there has come to light through the activities of the archeologists a rich store of material which throws important light on this subject. In the recoveries from the Cliff Dweller ruins fragments of the rind and peduncle in an excellent state of preservation have been secured and in the mortuary bowls seeds of cucurbits are found, the taxonomic characters of which are clearly defined. This material is now in the Peabody Museum of Harvard University and was collected by Messrs. Kidder and Guernsey. Also, in the Colorado State Historical Museum, are found specimens recovered by Dr. Paul S. Martin. The writer has been privileged to study these collections and finds numerous specimens of C. moschata and C. pepo. In the instance of the Peabody collection, some of the specimens are quite ancient. According to Kidder they are from the Basket Makers, a culture antedating the Cliff Dwellers, and are regarded by him as belonging to the period 1500 to 2000 B. C.

Interesting material of a similar character has come to light in the explorations made by Mr. Neil M. Judd under the direction of the National Geographic Society at Pueblo Bonito, New Mexico. In this material fragments of stems and seeds are found which are identified by Dr. C. V. Coville as C. pepo and C. moschata.

From the Everglades of Florida Dr. John K. Small has collected a plant of unknown origin which is running wild and is known as the Seminole Indian pumpkin, a variety of C. moschata.

In the Guadalupe Valley of southern Texas occurs a cucurbit closely related to C. pepo which appears to be indigenous. L. H. Bailey collected specimens in its natural habitat which he identifies as C. texana.

The fact that C. pepo and C. moschata are indigenous to North America seems clearly established. The nativity of the third species, C. maxima, the squashes, is still in the dark, and we are in hopes that the archeologists may in time be able to throw light upon this subject also.

A. T. ERWIN

IOWA STATE COLLEGE

Erwin, A. T. (1930). THE NATIVITY OF THE PUMPKINS. Science, 71(1845), 483484. doi:10.1126/science.71.1845.483-a
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