Gardeners in Florida often struggle to find vegetables that will make it through the relentless summer heat; Florida Seminole pumpkins just may be the answer to their search. Traditionally grown by the Calusa, Creek, and Miccosukee peoples, Seminole pumpkins remain one of the tastiest and most reliable pumpkins for Florida gardens.
Seminole pumpkins come in a variety of shapes and colors. While generally rounded and dull orange, their appearance can vary—even on the same plant. The inner flesh of Seminole pumpkins is orange and tastes like butternut squash, but sweeter. The flesh is firmer and less fibrous than that of a traditional jack-o-lantern pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo). The mature fruits generally weigh 6 to 12 pounds.
Thanks to their thick skin, Seminole pumpkins can be stored for up to a year in a dry location with enhanced ventilation. More realistically for Florida’s humid climate, they can be stored for a few months. To preserve their harvested Seminole pumpkins, aboriginal Floridians sliced and dried the fruit.
You don’t have to limit yourself to eating the flesh of these pumpkins, though. Young, green fruits can be harvested and eaten without peeling. The beautiful yellow flowers are also edible: raw, stuffed, or even fried!
Here’s a fun fact: the name “Chassahowitza,” given to a region on the gulf in Southwest Florida by the Seminole people, means “pumpkin hanging place.” It’s likely that the pumpkins they were referring to were Seminole pumpkins, or a related variety.
University of Florida IFAS