Cucurbita pepo, C. moschata, C. maxima
HistoryCourgette is an early, shrub-like plant that produces lots of new fruit as long as they are harvested. Some single varieties with winding tendrils are also available. (See the variety descriptions.)
The earliest squash was small and bitter and probably only the seeds, rich in protein and vitamins, were used. Already 9000 years ago squash and pumpkins were cultivated resembling those we have today. Since then they have been very important as a basic food for Native Americans in South- Central- and North America together with beans and corn.
In Europe the American squash was received coolly. The "pumpkin", which had been grown in Europe in the Middle Ages had come from the "hanging gardens" of Babylon via the Roman Empire, was almost certainly of the Lagenaria family (gourds). The squash wasn't seen as worthy of human consumption until the 1800s with one exception, the Italians, who took a fancy to the fast growing, mild varieties of squash. They had developed their Zucchini 300 years ago. It was, however, via USA the squash arrived in Europe to greater extent around the 1900s in the company of a great many other sorts for both summer and winter use.
One big question mark remains, however, in the history of squash, their well documented cultivation and use in East Asia long before our calendar began. How did they come there? From where? Did they originate there?