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Cushaw Squash

This warm-season annual fruit (botanically, squash is a fruit although it is used culinarily as a vegetable) has yellow fruit-bearing flowers. Cushaw squash plants usually grow up to 12 inches tall and spread to about 15 feet and the fruit usually weighs around 20 pounds. They are heat-tolerant, drought-tolerant, and resistant to the squash vine borer which is a bane to many other kinds of squashes and pumpkins. A mature cushaw squash has striped, light green skin. 

Classification Information:
Kingdom: Plantae  
Order: Cucurbitales
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Genus: Cucurbita
Species: C. argyrosperma
Binomial name: Cucurbita argyrosperma

Cushaw Squash Trivia

  • Cushaw squash seeds are rich in oil and protein.
  • The oldest English-language reference to the cushaw squash plant dates to 1698.
  • Cushaw squash is resistant to certain diseases like zucchini yellow mosaic virus and powdery mildew.
  • Cushaw squash plants are attractive to bees, butterflies, and birds.
  • Cushaw squash is not just nutritious but medicinal as well. The flesh is used in Yucatán folk medicine to treat burns, sores, and eczema.
  • Nursing women eat the seeds of cushaw squash. This helps them lactate. This is also used for pain relief.
  • The word “cucurbita” in Latin means “gourd”, while “argyrosperma” means “silver-seeded”.

Cushaw Squash Buying Guide

A good way to find out if a cushaw squash is ripe and perfect for cooking/eating is by feeling it. Lightly press it. A ripe cushaw squash should be hard. To make sure you buy quality cushaw squash, inspect the appearance also, and check for any discoloration, bruising, holes or bite marks from insects or small animals while the squash is on display, etc.

Buying a whole cushaw squash is better compared to buying chopped cushaw squash wrapped in plastic wrap. Your local supermarket, grocery, or farmers market are the best places to go if you are looking for cushaw squash. Ask around if there are local growers or farmers growing cushaw squash. Visit them after harvest and buy directly from them, or take part in community-supported agriculture (CSA).

If you are buying cushaw squash, it helps if you are familiar with how other people call it, so that you’ll know you are buying the same product in the store. Cushaw squash also goes by the name Green Striped Cushaw and White Cushaw. In some places, they call this squash Magdalena Striped, Papago, or Silver Seed Gourd. Other names used in place of cushaw squash include Japanese Pie, Hopi, Taos, Parral Cushaw, and Veracruz Pepita. In the Appalachian region, cushaw squash is known as Tennessee sweet potato. Mexicans call it calabaza, calabaza pinta, calabaza pipiana, or pipián, which is also what locals call it in other parts of Mexico as well as El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica (the salsa made from its seeds also take the same name). In Guatemala, they call it saquil or pipitoria.

Cushaw Squash Production & Farming in Texas

Cushaw squash can grow in the U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 3B through 11A. This means it can grow anywhere in Texas. The hardiness zone spectrum covering Texas ranges from 6 to 9B. In the US, cushaw squash is grown in Orangevale, California, Jacksonville, Florida, Mcalester and Webbers Falls, Oklahoma, Greeneville, Tennessee, and in Kerrville and Palestine, Texas.

A cushaw squash will do well if you plant it in well-draining soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 6.8. Plant when the soil temperature is at 60 F. It prefers full sun. Cushaw squash plants have average water needs. Do not overwater. Ideal companion plants for cushaw squash are celery, dill, nasturtiums, marigolds, oregano, borage, and onions.

When harvesting cushaw squash, do not pull it, do not twist it, or do not cut too close to the stem-end. Instead, cut it in a way that a portion of the stem remains attached to the cushaw squash. This practice is primarily to ensure that cushaw squash has a long shelf life. Cushaw squash with stems removed tends to spoil faster.


Unlike other pumpkins or squash that are vulnerable to squash vine borers, cushaw squash is not threatened by this particular pest. But cushaw squash is still vulnerable to other pests like the squash bug, aphids, and beetles. 

  • Squash bug – The use of man-made pesticide carbaryl is the solution to get rid of squash bugs.
  • Aphids – Kill aphids destroying your cushaw squash using neem oil, insecticidal soap, or horticultural oil. You can also use the pesticide malathion, which is the most commonly used organophosphate insecticide in the United States, or rotenone, a selective, non-specific insecticide typically used in home gardens for insect control.
  • Beetles – The use of man-made pesticide carbaryl is the solution to get rid of beetles. Other options include pyrethroid insecticides like cyfluthrin and Lambda cyhalothrin, pesticide malathion, pyrethrin spray, permethrin insecticide, and spinosad.


Cushaw squash traces its origins back 7,000 years ago in what is now modern-day southern Mexico where it is believed that cushaw squash was domesticated.

Many Central American countries grow and eat cushaw squash, including Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. In Mexico, cushaw squash is grown near the gulf, specifically in these areas: Tamaulipas, San Luis Potosí, Puebla, Veracruz, Tabasco, Chiapas and Yucatán. The callicarpa variety is grown in the Pacific slope, including the southeastern part of the United States to central Mexican states of Sonora, Sinaloa, Chihuahua, Zacatecas, Guanajuato, Nayarit, and Jalisco. The stenosperma variety can be found grown and cultivated in Mexico’s southeastern states, namely Guerrero, Morelos, Michoacán, and Oaxaca. This variety is also common in Veracruz and Yucatán.


Common to fruits and vegetables of the same size or larger, a cushaw squash is usually sold without any type of packaging, primarily because its thick skin and rind already provide it with a layer of protection, keeping the flesh inside safe from any potential contamination while out on display. In some stores or groceries, you will see whole or chopped cushaw squash individually wrapped in plastic wrap.

Enjoying Cushaw Squashes

Typical with most squash or pumpkin, the skin, seeds, and leaves are edible just like the flesh. But in terms of whether you should eat it or not, or if it is a norm to eat these parts of the cushaw squash depends on your preferences. Generally, they are safe to eat. You can even find recipes online for preparing, cooking, and eating the many different parts of a squash or pumpkin. 


Here are some important considerations and tips for storing cushaw squash. First, make sure you don’t break the skin in any part of the squash. Store them somewhere dark, cool, and dry, like a cellar. If whole, uncut cushaw squash is stored properly, it can last for at least four months. There are things you can do to make sure your cushaw squash is handled properly and not go to waste. To avoid leaving it in storage for too long, you can cut it up, make a stew or puree out of it, and refrigerate it for later consumption. If you know how to can, know that home-canned cushaw squash will keep for about two years, assuming you did everything right in the canning process. Lastly, keep in mind that cushaw squash does not have the same longevity as butternut squash so do not expect them to last as long.


You can roast the seeds or use them to make the Mexican sauce known as mole or pipian, which is then used to make a stew or mixed with rice. Cushaw squash flowers can be stuffed, breaded, or fried. You can make this a primary ingredient of your soup. These are delicious too! Cushaw squash has a special place in Creole and Cajun cooking, which refers to it as “Juirdmon”. It is used in making pies (like the Cushaw Pie a la Picayune and Creole Cushaw Pie). Some even use it to make cookies. In Tennessee, it is common to come across a cushaw squash butter made from a family recipe, using cushaw puree.

Nutritional Benefits:

Cushaw squash is an excellent food choice for people on a low-calorie diet. It also has minerals, carotene, vitamins A, vitamin B, and vitamin C. Eating cushaw squash can help boost immunity, help delay aging, improve vision, help improve lung health, help lower blood pressure, and for pregnant women, help reduce birth defects of babies.



  • Serving Size: 1 Serving (cooked)
  • Calories: 76
  • Carbs: 18g 6%
  • Sugar: 7g
  • Fiber: 6g 24%
  • Protein: 2g 4%
  • Fat: 0g 0%
  • Saturated Fat: 0g 0%
  • Trans Fat 0g 0%
  • Cholesterol 0mg 0%
  • Sodium 0mg 0%
  • Vitamin C 9%
  • Vitamin A 3%
  • Calcium 3%
  • Iron 3%

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