Pumpkin is a variety of winter squash that is often associated with Halloween due to it being a popular traditional Halloween decoration. A typical pumpkin is orange in color and has a smooth texture. However, there are also varieties of pumpkins that are naturally lumpy, bumpy, or warty.
Warty pumpkins may give a unique and interesting look to a typical fall decoration. While it can be fun to add such decoration, there are certain reasons why they have warts.
This post will tackle the five types of warty pumpkins, the reason why they have warts, and if they are safe to eat or not.
5 Types of Warty Pumpkins
1. ‘Knucklehead’ Pumpkins
A type of pumpkin that was intentionally bred to have warty skin, ‘Knucklehead’ pumpkins are a small to medium-sized fruit that is elongated and oval in shape. Once fully matured, this pumpkin is bright orange in color with prominent vertical ridging.
Covered in dark green to orange warts and bumps, ‘Knucklehead’ pumpkins have yellow-orange flesh with flat seeds that are cream in color.
‘Knucklehead’ pumpkins are readily available in the fall season through early winter. If used for cooking, this fruit will have a smooth texture and a very sweet yet gentle flavor. They are usually used in baking, boiling, or roasting.
These fruits can also be cooked with other vegetables as a side dish to meat dishes, and they can be added into salads or turned into soups. In addition, their flesh can be used to make sweet desserts such as pies, tarts, muffins, cakes, custards, and bread.
This pumpkin’s seeds make for a crunchy and healthy snack. ‘Knucklehead’ pumpkins are also ideal fall carving pumpkins because of their elongated size.
This fruit measures about 12 inches in height, 10 inches in diameter, and weighs about 12 to 16 pounds on average.
2. Marina di Chioggia
An Italian heirloom variety, Marina di Chioggia originated in an Italian seaside village named Chioggia, hence its name. Also called Chioggia Sea pumpkin, this type of pumpkin is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family together with gourds.
Marina di Chioggia has dark green to gray-blue skin, and is covered with warts called ‘sugar warts’ because they develop due to the buildup of excess sugar in the skin and flesh of the squash.
Round and short, this pumpkin has yellow-orange flesh and cream-colored seeds.
Available from fall to winter, this fruit is very common in Italy. In fact, when in season, Marina di Chioggia is usually found in farm stands and markets. It is also a well-known street food along the canals of Venice where it is prepared by slicing, grilling, and then seasoning with salt.
This type of pumpkin is usually roasted, grilled, baked, or steamed. Its sweet and nutty flavor blends well with various dishes, and it is usually added to sauces, stews, minestrones, or risottos.
Meanwhile, if roasted, these fruits will pair well with pasta, warm salads, and flatbreads. They can also be pureed and used as a filling for tortellini and ravioli.
Like ‘Knucklehead’ pumpkins, they can also be used to make desserts. Not only are they versatile fruits, but they are also packed with nutrients, including beta-carotene.
3. Galeux d’ Eysines
Galeux d’ Eysines comes with other names, including warted sugar marrow, peanut pumpkin, and courge brodee galeuse. This rare French heirloom variety that originated from France’s Bordeaux region is known for its distinctive appearance and sweet, soft flesh.
Medium to large in size, Galeux d’ Eysines has a round, but flat shape on the top and the bottom. When ripe, the skin should be salmon-peach in color and covered with peanut shell-like warts.
These warts are created when the sugars in the pumpkin’s flesh leech through the skin, which causes swelling. The more sugar content there is in the pumpkin, the more wart-like bumps appear on the pumpkin’s skin.
Like the first two warty pumpkin types, Galeux d’ Eysines is also available from fall through winter. It is used for decorative purposes, but is also an ideal choice for cooking since this pumpkin type is loaded with nutrients and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and beta carotene.
With a smooth, tender texture and a sweet flavor that is similar to apple and sweet potato, Galeux d’ Eysines is used for various cooking applications, such as baking, roasting, grilling, or sautéing.
However, boiling and steaming of these pumpkins is not ideal since their flesh will turn out to be too wet when cooked with water. Roasted Galeux d’ Eysines will make an excellent side dish with meat. It can also be pureed and be used in pies, sauces, and soups.
4. Black Futsu
An ancient heirloom variety from Japan, Black Futsu is a rare and special type of pumpkin grown since the 17th century. Highly available across Asia and Southeast Asia, Black Futsu is gradually becoming popular in Europe and the United States as well.
This early-ripening winter pumpkin variety is known for its cooking uses, although it also makes great ornamental decorations in fall and winter.
This type of pumpkin weighs 3 to 5 pounds on average, and has a squat, blocky shape. Its very dark green skin is heavily ribbed and is covered in warts. Its skin may also be covered with a blue-gray film which makes it dusty and rugged to the touch.
Available in the fall through winter, Black Futsu pumpkins are not only delicious, but also a great source of vitamins A, vitamin C, fiber, calcium, iron, and beta-carotene.
Black Futsu pumpkins can be roasted, baked, boiled, or stir-fried. They can also be fried in tempura, pickled, or pureed to make filling for pies, or turned into soups.
5. ‘Red Warty Thing’
The ‘Red Warty Thing’ is believed to be the result of mixing red hubbard squash with an ordinary pumpkin. This type of warty pumpkin grows on long trailing vines that can lengthen up to 13 feet.
Their origin dates back to 1897 where they are called ‘Victor’. However, the introduction of modern pumpkin varieties resulted in the decline of their popularity.
Fortunately, the United States Seed Bank stored their seeds for preservation. In the early 2000s, these pumpkins were reintroduced into the market under the name ‘Red Warty Thing’.
They are now used for decorations due to their bright orange skin and bumps, and they are also used for cooking because of their smooth flesh and mild flavor.
‘Red Warty Thing’ pumpkins have a good amount of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and beta-carotene. They are usually roasted, steamed, boiled, or baked. They can also be pureed to make desserts, including tarts, cakes, pies, muffins, and puddings.
Why do pumpkins have warts?
While there are pumpkins that are grown to have warts, what about those pumpkin varieties who are not supposed to have warts, but grow them anyway?
Here are the two possible reasons for this occurrence:
- Mosaic virus. One of the reasons why a smooth-skinned pumpkin may turn bumpy is the presence of the mosaic virus. Spread by aphids, this virus is identified by tiny leaves on the plant, as well as leaves with patches or spots.
Pumpkins affected by this virus may look like the bumps grow under their skin, which makes them very similar to pumpkins that were bred for warts. For this reason, it is essential to know the seed that you planted or the pumpkin variety that you’re buying.
- Edema. Another possible reason for a bumpy pumpkin is edema. If the pumpkin grows in a cool and wet season, it may suffer from edema which is caused by absorbing excessive water.
When a pumpkin takes in too much water, its plant cells bloat, grow bigger, and then burst. Once the area heals, it will create a dry scar that looks similar to warts.
Can you eat warty pumpkins?
Pumpkins affected by the mosaic virus are still safe to eat, although it may reduce their quality compared to unaffected pumpkins. While the mosaic virus can cause a significant effect on a pumpkin’s physical appearance, it does not cause harm to humans, and it does not also cause the pumpkin to rot.
However, if severely affected, the fruit may not be desirable for consumption.
Meanwhile, edema is not a serious concern on pumpkins. Pumpkins who suffer from edema can still be eaten as it does not affect the flavor or the quality of the fruit.
Pumpkins that are grown to have warts on them are safe to eat.
Warty pumpkins can also be used for sweet dishes, such as in Thanksgiving pie filling, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin chili, puddings, cakes, and muffins. Its seeds can be salted or roasted to make a healthy and delicious treat.
In essence, warty pumpkins can also be cooked, eaten, and used for the same purpose as people would use a typical pumpkin.