Is Pumpkin a Fruit or Vegetable?

When we think of fruit, most of us likely think of such foods as apples, oranges, peaches, or strawberries. Things like lettuce, corn, and carrots likely come to mind when thinking of vegetables.   

However, the unique pumpkin is not something that most have thought about in terms of its classification as a fruit or vegetable. This is especially true given the pumpkin is typically only widely sold for a few months in the fall. Additionally, it often plays heavy a decorative role, rather than solely a food item. 

In this article, we are going to explore whether the pumpkin is a fruit or vegetable.  First, let’s define the difference between a fruit and a vegetable. We can then see where the pumpkin falls into one of these definitions

Fruit vs. Vegetable

A fruit is formed from a blooming flower of the mother plant. It is also seed-bearing. Merriam-Webster defines it as “the usually edible reproductive body of a seed plant, especially one having a sweet pulp associated with the seed” or “a product of plant growth”. 

Vegetables are the edible roots, steams, leaves, and bulbs of the plant. In other words, they are the various edible parts of an existing plant. Merriam-Webster defines a vegetable as “a usually herbaceous plant grown for an edible part that is usually eaten as part of a meal”. 

In short, a fruit grows from the flower of an existing plant and produces seeds whereas a vegetable is an existing plant, which its parts are eaten as food. 

For additional reference, the below video provides an excellent discussion on the difference between a fruit and vegetable.

Is Pumpkin a Fruit or Vegetable? 

A pumpkin is a fruit. It develops from a flower as pictured below. Additionally, a pumpkin contains numerous seeds as many readers who annually carver pumpkins likely already know. The fact that the pumpkin forms from a flower and contains seeds is the reason why it is considered a fruit. 

Despite the facts, we will likely continue to hear of the pumpkin being referred to as a vegetable on occasion. This is because it is culinarily used as a vegetable from time to time. An example of this is pumpkin soup.

Furthermore, the pumpkin is also often associated with the squash, which is known to be used like a vegetable in many dishes. The squash is in the same family, Cucurbitaceae, as the pumpkin and is botanically a fruit similar to the pumpkin. 

Lastly, outside of deer and other animals, pumpkins are not eaten raw as a norm. When people think of fruit, they often picture it being consumed in its raw form and not cooked like many vegetables. We are speculating that this has and always will, at least partly, confuse the classification of a pumpkin as a vegetable.