Spots, Stripes and Unusual Squash Fruit

Spotted acorn squash, striped zucchini and warty pumpkins are sometimes found on volunteer plants growing in gardens and compost piles. No need to worry, most are edible but not always as tasty as the original variety.

So here is how it happens. Vine crops such as squash, pumpkins, melons and gourds produce separate male and female flowers. Each type of plant can only be pollinated by the same species.

Since summer squash, pumpkins, gourds and some winter squash are all the same species, they can pollinate each other. This doesn’t affect the fruit we harvest from seeds we purchase and plant. But the seeds of these, if cross pollinated, can grow into new plants and produce unusual fruit.

So if you save seeds, leave fruit in the garden or compost pile, the volunteer plants may produce unique fruit with characteristics of one or both of the parent plants.

A bit more information:  As you harvest these distinctively different fruits try tracking down their parents. Look at last year’s garden plan to see what closely related plants may have crossed to create these fun fruit.  If this is not the case, you may have a virus or other disease, causing this change in appearance.

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