A pumpkin is a cultivar of winter squash that is round with smooth, slightly ribbed skin, and is most often deep yellow to orange in coloration. The thick shell contains the seeds and pulp. The name is most commonly used for cultivars of Cucurbita pepo, but some cultivars of Cucurbita maxima, C. argyrosperma, and C. moschata with similar appearance are also sometimes called 'pumpkin'. Native to North America (northeastern Mexico and the southern United States), pumpkins are one of the oldest domesticated plants, having been used as early as 7, 500 to 5, 000 BC. Pumpkins are widely grown for commercial use and as food, aesthetics, and recreational purposes. Pumpkin pie, for instance, is a traditional part of Thanksgiving meals in Canada and the United States, and pumpkins are frequently carved as jack-o'-lanterns for decoration around Halloween, although commercially canned pumpkin pure and pumpkin pie fillings are usually made from different kinds of winter squash from the ones used for jack-o'-lanterns. In 2019, China accounted for 37% of the world's production of pumpkins. Etymology and terminology According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the English word pumpkin is derived from the Ancient Greek word romanized pepon meaning 'melon'. Under this theory, the term transitioned through the Latin word peponem and the Middle French word pompon to the Early Modern English pompion, which was changed to pumpkin by 17th-century English colonists, shortly after encountering pumpkins upon their arrival in what is now the northeastern United States. An alternate derivation for pumpkin is the Massachusett word phpukun 'grows forth round'. This term would likely have been used by the Wampanoag people (who speak the Wpanak dialect of Massachusett) when introducing pumpkins to English Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony, located in present-day Massachusetts. The English word squash is also derived from a Massachusett word, variously transcribed as asktasquash, ashk8tasqash, or, in the closely-related Narragansett language, asktasquash. The term pumpkin has no agreed upon botanical or scientific meaning, and is used interchangeably with 'squash' and 'winter squash'. In North America and the United Kingdom, pumpkin traditionally refers to only certain round orange varieties of winter squash, predominantly derived from Cucurbita pepo, while in New Zealand and Australian English, the term pumpkin generally refers to all winter squash.
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