Pumpkins and Palm Trees

Have you had a close relationship with a pumpkin lately? Maybe you carved one at Halloween, or melted one into pies at Thanksgiving? Or maybe you bought the pepitas all peeled and roasted to mix into stuffing for chiles? My favorite part of the pumpkin is the seeds, salted, oiled, and roasted. My other favorite part is the flowers, stuffed with cheese and fried. Pumpkins are monoecious, with male flowers on the same plant as female flowers. The males come out earlier and are better for stuffing, no decadent, thick pistillate parts.

I dig the seeds out of the stringy cavity, roasting most, but saving some to throw in the garden or on the compost heap where they spread and flower.

The pumpkin meat is also good, simmered into a pleasing pulp for the pie no one in my family much likes, or in a casserole with brown sugar and pecans that they don’t much like either. Pumpkins are from México, but in Spanish they don’t have a special name, just the general calabaza that serves for all squash. Maybe Nahuatl has a name for them.

This morning I was sad to see these four beauties at the curb with the trash, and memorialized them with a photo. I would have taken them with me, but it would have been a bit awkward on my bike. How many meals could we have made out of them? I could have planted them now and tried their leaves which I just learned are edible.

We stayed late for another meeting of Scientia, and then even later, because once it’s dark, it’s dark. Biking home was another treat, fully decorated palm trees. They made me laugh, even though I generally prefer leafy trees where I’m more likely to see a downy woodpecker or a warbler.

We go pretty quickly on our bikes, but these are some details that we would miss in a car.


They throw out pumpkins in Southside Place.


The palm trees are decorated along University Bvd, ready for a night bike ride.


About Joan E. Strassmann

Evolutionary biologist, studies social behavior in insects & microbes, interested in education, travel, birds, tropics, nature, food; biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis
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2 Responses to Pumpkins and Palm Trees

  1. saralarus says:

    I’m enjoying your blog, Joan. I had to comment because Asahel, Ruth and I stopped at someone’s curb in the aforementioned neighborhood and adopted their pumpkins. We call them “Orphan Pumpkins” and painted them this afternoon. They’ll make us some great compost eventually.

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