Q:

What is the life cycle of a pumpkin?

A:

Quick Answer

A pumpkin begins life as a seed, which holds an embryo. If the seed is planted and watered, it germinates into a seedling, which grows into a vine with male and female flowers. If the female flower is successfully pollinated, a fruit grows from the ovary.

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Full Answer

The flowers of the pumpkin plant are large and yellow and are pollinated by insects.

When the pumpkin seed is planted, its outer coat expands and splits. A tiny root starts to grow downward into the soil, while the leaves grow upward toward the light. The first leaves are called cotyledons and are simple. They start to take on the characteristics of the mature plant as it grows. In the case of the pumpkin, the leaves grow to be quite large and somewhat prickly.

Eventually, the plant produces flowers and fruit of its own. The fruit protects the seeds until it is opened up or rots away. The seeds are then eaten and dispersed or fall to the soil and germinate.

Most parts of the pumpkin are edible, including the leaves when they are young. The seeds are called pepitas, and the pulp is used to make pies. The pulp is scooped out of the pumpkin and the pumpkin is carved to make jack-o-lanterns for Halloween. Though the pumpkin is associated with fall, the vine is sensitive to frost.

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