Last Updated: October 20, 2023

Squash Parents Mystery Solved

By Published On: October 26th, 20223.1 min readCategories: Garden

Last Updated: October 20, 2023

Good news, we’ve figured out who the father is

About six weeks ago, I snapped a couple of photos of a pair of odd baby pumpkins in the keyhole garden.

Mystery baby pumpkin 1
Mystery baby pumpkin 2

Part pumpkin maybe, but papa was no Jack O’ Lantern.

The seeds were from a very nice Howden pumpkin I grew the year before, but it was obvious from the offspring, that near perfect pumpkin’s father was no Jack O’ Lantern.

Two pumpkins in a field

Jane (rear) was a 14 pound Howden pumpkin seen here sunning in 2021 with a cousin

The pumpkin (we’ll call her “Jane”), was a medium-sized pumpkin with a perfect width-to-height ratio, slight ribs, and firm orange skin that contrasted nicely with her deep green stem. Jane was a very attractive squash. Above you can see her (stem to the right) with a cousin lounging in the early fall sun near the edge of our pumpkin patch.

Looking at her little ones above though, other than a similar general height to width ratio, they don’t look much like her at all. There were other squash varieties in the garden, but none so close as to be obvious which one’s pollen made a visit to Jane’s corner of the patch.

I decided to put on my detective hat and solve the mystery.

Perusing my garden notes from a year earlier, I narrowed the list of likely sires to three squashes in flower around the same time: Delicata, Waltham Butternut and Green Stripe Zucchini.

Meet the Squash Suspects

Suspect 1

Monsieur Delicata

Monsieur Delicata’s colors are right and some do have more stripes than spots, but his shape seems off in comparison to the babies. Though like the pumpkin, it is a winter squash. Plus, Monsieur Delicata grew at the south end of the vegetable garden where the prevailing wind was toward the pumpkin patch.

Suspect 2

Mr. Butternut

Mr. Butternut (Waltham to his friends) & company had a whole row to themselves and took advantage of the extra room to spread far and wide. Still his beige color, smooth skin and club shape don’t really resemble the kids.

Suspect 3

Señor Zucchini

Ol’ Green Stripe has some pretty pronounced green striping just like the kids. Plus, when he got big, there was a bit of a pinch like they have. But, the Señor was older and not as vigorous by the time the pumpkins were flowering, so it would have been a May-December romance.

After reviewing the evidence and considering any connections the suspect squashes might have had with Jane, I was ready to rule out Butternut (his shape and color were wrong) and focus on the two fat green squashes. Zucchini had the stripes like the odd babies, but Delicata had the thicker winter-squash skin they did.

Ultimately, since there’s no database to run the odd babies’ DNA through and definitely identify the father, my investigation pretty much ended there. I figured I’d just wait and see.

And it worked! Now that the babies are all grown up, it’s pretty obvious who the papa was.

Drumroll please….

It was Mr. Butternut in the Pumpkin Patch!

two squashes on a table

The Odd Babies all grown up – Butterkin (L) and Pumpnut (R)

Because the squash stayed green until the last couple of weeks on the vine, it wasn’t clear that I’d ever know what kind of hybrid these two are. But once they started turning that butternut beige, the bulge in the squashes made sense (they got mom’s frame, but dad’s coloring and bump).

Mystery solved.

(Is it weird to wonder how they taste?)

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About the Author

author avatar
Sage Osterfeld
I’m just a guy with nearly an acre of dirt, a nice little mid-century ranch house and a near-perfect climate. But in my mind I’m a landscaper survivalist craftsman chef naturalist with a barbeque the size of a VW and my own cable TV show. I like to write about the stuff I build, grow and see here at Sage's Acre.


  1. […] garden over the weekend including the butternut squash. They share the same grandparents as the mystery pumpkins, so this is sort of like a family […]

  2. Michael Dyer October 27, 2023 at 5:12 pm - Reply

    I have grown the same squash this year as in your 2nd photograph.. I can send a photo if there is some way to do it. But the biggest one is roundish pumpkin shape, but the coloration of green with white splotches. I assume it was a “native Seed” company variety, but now that I had to harvest everything, I can’t find a seed packet that matches. So MAYBE I used my own pie pumpkin seeds for one hill, after they had fooled around with ?___________? Many options, including Rancho Marques.

    • Sage Osterfeld October 28, 2023 at 8:56 am - Reply

      Squash so readily interbreeds that it’s hard to tell who is who after a generation or two. Seems to me they’re always trying to revert to weird bumpy squat fruit like the Rancho Marques. Who knows, maybe you’ve stumbled over the new hot breed.

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