Differences Between Pumpkins, Squash and Gourds

Get The Low Down on Fall Staples like Pumpkins, Squash & Gourds

By Gina LiVorio Posted on 10/24/2019

Fall is in the air and your local pumpkin patch is likely in full swing. When we think of fall, we can’t help to think of pumpkins, squash and gourds and their vibrant orange, yellow and green colors.

For those of us who aren’t Cucurbitaceae connoisseurs, however, it might be difficult to distinguish the differences between these three fall staples.

If you need a crash course on what makes pumpkins, squash and gourds different, you’ve come to the right place. Our gardening experts have rounded up the top differences between them below.


Pumpkins come in many shapes, sizes, textures and colors ranging from green to blue. Each pumpkin serves a different purpose, for example Sugar Pumpkins are best known for pumpkin pies and have a sweeter taste. It’s a bit confusing but pumpkins are considered a winter squash. However, not all squash are considered pumpkins. Pumpkins can be used both for decoration and to eat, as opposed to gourds, which aren’t for eating.


Gourds are decorative and perfect for fall centerpieces. Unlike pumpkins or squash, gourds aren’t the best to use in fall recipes, although some varieties are edible. It’s best to leave gourds as festive decoration to look at, since they’re both difficult to cook and eat. Pumpkins and squash are part of the same family, while gourds belong to a different part of the Cucurbitaceae family.


Out of the three, squash is best known for all the delicious ways we can eat them. There are several varieties of squash that can be used in recipes that range from soups to ravioli. Using varieties that range from acorn to butternut squash, we can roast, dice and puree this fall staple.

All in all, pumpkins and squash are the most similar and part of the same branch of Cucurbitaceae. They can both be used in culinary dishes, and all three can be used as festive fall décor.


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