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CUCURBITA argyrosperma 'Survivor'

Image of Cucurbita argyrosperma 'Survivor'

Jessie Keith

Family

Cucurbitaceae

Botanical Name

CUCURBITA argyrosperma 'Survivor'

Plant Common Name

Squash, Survivor Squash

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

This sprawling, warm-season annual vine originates from Mesoamerica, from Mexico to Costa Rica. Botanists believe the cushaw squash was first cultivated about 7,000 years ago in southern Mexico. Traditionally the flowers, stems and both immature and mature fruits were eaten. When compared to its close cousins, Cucurbita pepo and C. moschata, the fruits of C. argyrosperma are less flavorful and lower in quality for eating overall but they are decorative.

A diverse species with two natural subspecies, the firm skinned fruits come an array of sizes. Fruits are either globose or have a neck and bulbous end and are largely white with green speckles. Today, several modern winter squash, pumpkin or gourd cultivars are the result of hybridizing cushaw squash with other cucurbit species.

Two types of cushaws dominate gardens. Silver seed types are bitter and unpalatable and largly grown for their oil-rich seeds. In contrast, the callicarpa or cushaw types are grown for their tasty squash. All forms are visually appealing and attractive for decorative fall displays.

The rambling or climbing plants can grow quickly to a very large size and have many large, broadly oval to heart-shaped, green leaves. Each leaf is coarse, hairy and can irritate the skin if touched. Like most cucurbits, separate male and female flowers appear on the same plant. These blossoms are large, golden yellow to orange, 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 fruits following pollination.

Cushaw squash fruits tend to mature with hard rinds that are either smooth or slightly ridged. Rind color is naturally white or white with long green stripes or speckles. 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 seeds of Cucurbita argyrosperma into mounds of rich, porous soil when the danger of frost has passed. Warm, moist soil and a long growing season are needed for good growth and fruit development. Full sun is required. The fruits are typically ready for harvest from 90 to 120 days after sowing. To reduce the risk of fungal problems, avoid unnecessary wetting of vine stems and leaves. Monitor closely for stem borers (although this species seems to be naturally 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.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 1

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, H1, H2, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Vegetable

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun

  • Height

    1'-3' / 0.3m - 0.9m

  • Width

    8'-20' / 2.4m - 6.1m

  • Bloom Time

    Indeterminate

  • Native To

    Mexico, Central America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Vining/Climbing

  • Seasonal Interest

    Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Yellow, Orange, Gold

  • Fruit Color

    White, Green, Dark Green, Ivory

  • Fruit Color Modifier

    Bicolor, Striped/Striated, Spotted/Mottled

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    Yes

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Edible, Herb / Vegetable, Tropical, Vine

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes