Is Pumpkin A Vegetable Or A Fruit?

A pumpkin is such a confusing piece of produce. On one hand, it's got so much in common with apples, peaches, and bananas in that it's the starring ingredient of pies, muffins, and other baked goods. Which would lead you to believe that pumpkin is a fruit. But, on the other hand, have you ever actually eaten a piece of plain pumpkin, or tasted the puree of canned pumpkin before you added in all of the sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla that makes it pie-worthy? It's hardly sweet; if you had to eat unsweetened pumpkin and unsweetened zucchini with a blindfold on, you might even have trouble figuring out which was which. So, is pumpkin, therefore, a vegetable?

As it turns out, sweetness has nothing to do with whether a plant is classified as a fruit or a vegetable, and indeed, pumpkin is a fruit. But so are zucchini and tomatoes! As Good Housekeeping reports, botanists base their classifications on anatomical features, not how sweet or savory a vegetable or fruit happens to be. 

Pumpkins are fruitful and multiply

So what is it about the pumpkin's anatomy that makes it a fruit and not a vegetable? It's those yummy seeds you'll find within it when you carve the big orange gourds into jack-o-lanterns. Fruits are defined as the edible reproductive body of a seed plant (per The Daily Meal). One thing these plant ovaries all have in common – bananas (which are technically berries), apples, and yes, pumpkins – is that they grow on plants, such as trees or bushes, or in patches. Vegetables, meanwhile, are the edible parts of herbaceous plants. You won't find a broccoli tree – the entire plant is edible. (Well, whether you just eat the florets or eat the florets and the stems is another topic, but either way, both can be eaten.)

Just because a pumpkin is technically a fruit doesn't mean you have to only eat it in pies and other desserts. Pumpkin soup, pumpkin pasta, and stuffed pumpkin are all great savory dishes. Because pumpkin is low-calorie and nutrient-dense, it's not only delicious and versatile, but healthy, too (via Beautiful Wildlife Garden).