CUCURBITA argyrosperma 'Green Striped Cushaw'
Plant Common Name
Green Striped Cushaw Squash, Squash
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The Hopi tribe in the American Southwest regarded crookneck variety 'Green Striped Cushaw' as a reliable winter squash crop for centuries. The sprawling, warm-season annual vine species originates from Mesoamerica - from Mexico to Costa Rica - but was grown by native peoples across the New World. Botanists believe the cushaw squash was first cultivated about 7,000 years ago in southern Mexico.
'Green Striped Cushaw' produces large, 10- to 20-pound (4.5 to 9 kg) fruits. The skin is ivory-white to palest green, with dark green bands and netting in an attractive pattern. It has a narrow, curving neck atop a large, "bowl" or swollen base. The light yellow flesh is meaty, fibrous, tender and slightly sweet tasting. It may be used in both sweet and savory culinary dishes. Once seeds are sown, 'Green Striped Cushaw' takes 110 days before fruits are ready for harvest.
These rambling, vined plants can grow quickly to a very large size, and are covered with broadly oval to heart-shaped green leaves. Each leaf is coarse, hairy and can irritate the skin. Like most cucurbits, separate male and female flowers appear on the same plant. These blossoms are large, golden yellow, trumpet-shaped and pollinated by bees. The male flowers open first on the vine, followed by the female flowers, distinguished by bulbous ovaries at their bases which develop into mature fruits following pollination.
Cushaw squash fruits tend to mature with a hard rind that is either smooth or slightly ridged. Fruit rind is naturally a shade of white, or is white with long green stripes. Cut the fruit open to see the internal white, yellow or orange flesh. A few types may be harvested when the fruits are immature and tender, but most are treated as winter squash, ripening in late summer to fall. Each fruit contains a cavity filled with numerous elliptical, inflated seeds with scalloped edges. These may be roasted and eaten, or dried and saved for the following year's garden.
Directly sow 'Green Striped Cushaw' seeds into mounds of rich, porous soil when the danger of frost has passed. A warm, moist soil is needed, and a long growing season for good growth and complete fruit development and maturation on the vine. Full sun is required. To reduce the risk of fungal problems, avoid unnecessary wetting of vine stems and leaves. Monitor closely for stem borers (although this cultivar is amazingly resistant to damage), leaf bugs and beetles. As fruits mature in autumn, deer, birds and rodents may browse them, so protect as needed. Mature cushaw squash fruits should be harvested before heavy frosts when their color is solid, the rinds firm, and the vines begin to brown and die back. Cut carefully from the vine, leaving a short stem for easy handling and to discourage fruit rot. Take care not to cut or bruise the skin, and store the fruit in a cool, dry, frost-free location for up to four months.