Why do some pumpkins have acne?

We see more and more gourds and pumpkins with warts on market stalls and as decorations at Halloween. But what explains these small deformations? A sickness? A mutation? A means of protection? Subway conducted its investigation.

If there are indeed diseases and fungi that can cause these warts, it is obviously not contaminated squash that we find on the market.

Joined by Subway, the co-owner of the Squash Interpretation Center in Saint-Joseph-du-Lac, Catherine Lauzon explains that several varieties of squash and pumpkins have these characteristics. There would also be more and more on the market to meet customer demand since warty pumpkins are gaining in popularity.

« It’s popular for decoration and it can also be eaten, so we are comfortable growing them, » says Catherine Lauzon.

Where do warts come from?

Some varieties of squash that are initially wart-free can also develop warts on their skin to protect themselves, she says. “Sometimes there is too much sugar in the plant, so warts will form to store it.”

These scars can also form on the squash to protect it from blows, excess heat, or even cold.

On the other hand, “it is very rare that a pumpkin decides by itself to create one to protect itself or to keep its sugar. If you see a pumpkin with warts, it’s often because it’s a variety that was developed like that,” she says.

Among the squashes that naturally have warts, there is the Eysines scabby. The warts of this variety would make it very resistant to insects and diseases, says Catherine Lauzon. As for warty pumpkins, the co-owner of the Squash Interpretation Center gives the examples of the Warty Goblin, the Grizzly Bear, the Goosebumps, or even the Specter, the latter being easily recognizable by its whitish color.

The texture of the warts of the Eysines scab would be similar to that of wood. Photo: AlpamayoPhoto, iStock.

A difficult season

Offering a pick-your-own service, the Squash Interpretation Center lost nearly 50% of its production this year, argues Catherine Lauzon. Flooding, heavy rain and temperature variation would have made the season particularly difficult, among other things because these factors are conducive to the development of diseases.

“There are several diseases with which we fought this summer, says Catherine Lauzon. Mid-August, we still had squash that hadn’t even started to grow. When the plant is so late, it just ends up aborting.”

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