Another one of my eclectic interests is winter squash and pumpkins (BTW, I am still hard at work on the squash guide!), so for those vegetable gardeners who want to be able to identify the difference between their plants while they are still young (“Did the seed seller send the right seeds?”) here are some clever tips based on leaves (and stems).
Despite my patterned planting method to help identify the seedlings coming from seeds I plant, I still have trouble with confusing squash volunteers showing up in the hills. This year I clearly noticed the interlopers only after blossoms were starting to set fruit. However, I could have picked up the problems earlier if I had carefully tried to distinguished the C. pepo species from C. maxima. Often, the differences are subtle, but it is possible to reliably tell them apart before they start to fruit.
You can tell the two species apart using the characteristics of leaf shape, prickles, and the fruit stem. Pepo is pricklier and has more deeply indented leaves, and the leaf margins are more sharply toothed.
Both species are very diverse and have a wide range of leaf shapes. The pepos, particularly, can either be spiky like the Zucchini leaf or it can have much more…
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