Cucurbita moschata Duchesne

Last updated: 14 Jun 2016

Scientific Name

Cucurbita moschata Duchesne


Cucurbita colombiana (Zhit.) Bukasov, Cucurbita hippopera Ser., Cucurbita macrocarpa Gasp., Cucurbita meloniformis Carrière, Gymnopetalum calyculatum Miq., Pepo moschata (Duchesne) Britton [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Labu merah, labu parang [2], ketola [3]
English Pumpkin, winter squash, summer squash, marrow, cushaw, gourd [2], musk melon, winter squash Calabaza, west indian pumpkin, zapallo [3], red gourd, musky gourd, zucchini, Canadian pumpkin, crook-neck squash [4]
China Zhong guo, nan-kua tz’u, nan gua, fan gua, kusum [3]
India Baungham, dengar-bela, dangara balli [4]
Indonesia Waluh, labu, labu merah [2]
Thailand Fak-thong (Central), namtao farang (Peninsular) [2], fak tawng, nam tao [3]
Laos F’ak kh'am, f’ak th'oong, 'ü' [2]
Philippines Kalabasa [2]
Cambodia Lo-pëu [2]
Vietnam B[is] d[or], b[is] ng[oo] [2]
Papua New Guinea Pamkin [2]
France Courge, potiron, courgette [2]
Mexico Xete [4].

Geographical Distributions

The genus Cucurbita comprising about 25 species, is of New World origin. Central Mexico is considered the centre of origin of Cucurbita moschata. Archaeological evidence for the association of cultivated Cucurbita with man dates back to about 8000 BC. Wild forms have never been found. C. moschata spreads both north (United States) and south (Central and northern South America). After the discovery of the New World, Cucurbita species were introduced into the Old World, and secondary centres of diversity developed, mainly in Asia. [2]

Botanical Description

C. moschata is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family. It is a vine with hard and angular stem. [2]

The leaves are soft hairy, not harsh, large and shallowly lobed. The petal is with widely spreading and mostly reflexed lobes. [2]

The fruit is a pepo. The fruit stalk is hard, smoothly grooved and enlarged at fruit attachment. [2]


C. moschata is grown in the tropics from the lowlands up to 1500 m altitude. They are warm season crops adapted to monthly mean temperatures of 18-27°C. C. moschata is the least tolerant of low temperatures. The species is relatively insensitive to photoperiod, although both photoperiod and temperature influence the ratio of male to female flowers (long days and high temperatures favouring male sex expression). C. moschata is not very demanding with respect to soil requirements. It can be cultivated on almost any fertile, well-drained soil with a neutral or slightly acid reaction (pH 5.5-7). It is drought-tolerant, requires relatively little water, and is sensitive to waterlogging. Excessive humidity is harmful because of the development of leaf diseases, so none of the species does well in the humid tropics. [2]

Chemical Constituent

C. moschata has been reported to contain carotenoids including β-carotene, α-carotene, lutein, phytofluene, zeta-carotene, neurosporene, violaxanthin, and neoxanthin. [5]

Leaf of C. Moschata has been reported to contain unsaturated hydroxyl fatty acid, 13-hydroxy-9Z,11E,15E-octadecatrienoic acid. [6]

Sterol fraction of C. moschata seed oil has been reported to contain 24S-ethyl 5α-cholesta-7,22E-dien-3-β-ol, 24S-ethyl 5α-cholesta-7,22E,25-trien-3-β-ol, 24S-ethyl 5α-cholesta-7,25-dien-3β-ol, 24R-ethyl-cholesta-7-en-3β-ol and 24-ethyl-cholesta-7,24(28)-dien-3β-ol. [7]

Methanol extract of C. moschata seeds has been reported to contain phenolic glycosides cucurbitosides A-E. [8]

Fatty acid content of C. moschata seeds has been reported to contain 12.4-17.9% palmitic, 5.4-8.2% stearic, 13.5-25.8% oleic and 53.0-59.0% linoleic acids. [9]

Plant Part Used

Seed, fruit, leaf, flower [3]

Traditional Use

C. moschata is prescribed in the treatment of coughs, fever and chest pains. [3]

The leaves are used as tea to treat stomach ulcers and jaundice. [3]

The flowers can also be used to treat jaundice. [3]

The fruits have mild laxative effect. The fruit extracts are used to treat wounds caused by animal bites. [3]

The seeds are used to expel tapeworms. The pulverized seed, i.e. with half of its oil contents removed by grinding, is used in cases of acute schistosomiasis. The seeds also help to prevent the development of renal calculi. [3]

Preclinical Data


Anti-obesity activity

In a report of the screening of plant sources for their anti-obesity activity, a water-soluble extract from C. moschata stems was found to inhibit adipocyte differentiation, control peroxisome proliferators-activated receptor a (PPARa) and increase fatty acid-oxidation in a dose dependent manner. Consistent with these in vitro results, the water-soluble extract produced significant anti-obesity activity including lowering triglyceride and cholesterol levels in blood of a high fat diet-induced mouse model. The data of this study suggest that the extract may have a great potential as a safe and effective anti-obesity agent. [10]

Ribosomal-inactivating proteins (RIPs) activity

Ribosomal-inactivating proteins are plant proteins that are known to damage ribosomes in an irreversible manner, thus inhibiting protein synthesis. RIPs are used in medicine, linked to monoclonal antibodies, to construct immunotoxins, hybrid molecules able to eliminate dangerous cells in a selective way. Due to the higher tolerance of humans towards RIPs from edible plants, immunotoxins containing these RIPs may result more suitable for human therapy. [11]

In a study to determine the presence of ribosomal-inactivating proteins in various plant materials, the basic protein extract from C. moschata sarcocarp was observed to have the highest activity. This high activity basic protein fraction was purified to obtain a RIP which was later evaluated for its enzymatic and other properties, and compared with other two RIPs previously isolated from other plant materials, cucurmosin and moschatin. The RIP exhibited superoxide dismutase acitivity, as well as antimicrobial and antifungal activity by inhibiting the growth of two strains of Phytophora infestans (60%) and the growth of Erwinia amylovora (70%) and Pseudomonas solanacearum (50%). [11]


No documentation

Clinical Data

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing



Figure 1: Line drawing of C. moschata [2]


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Cucurbita moschata Duchesne.[homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 Jun 14] Available from:
  2. Siemonsma JS, Piluek K, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 8. Vegetables. Wageningen, Netherlands: Pudoc Scientific Publishers; 1993.
  3. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research. Compendium of medicinal plants used in Malaysia. Volume 2. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC IMR, 2002; p. 230.
  4. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms and etymology. Volume II C-D. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 540.
  5. Gonzalez E, Montenegro MA, Nazareno MA, López de Mishima BA. Carotenoid composition and vitamin A value of an Argentinian squash (Cucurbita moschata). Arch Latinoam Nutr. 2001;51(4):395-399.
  6. Bang MH, Han JT, Kim HY, et al. 13-Hydroxy-9Z,11E,15E-octadecatrienic acid from the leaves of Cucurbita moschata. Arch Pharm Res. 2002;25(4):438-440.
  7. Rodriguez JB, Gros GE, Bertoni MH, Cattaneo P. The sterols of Cucurbita moschata (“calabacita”) seed oil. Lipids. 1996;31(11):1205-1208.
  8. Koike K, Li W, Liu L, Hata E, Nikaido T. New phenolic glycosides from the seeds of Cucurbita moschata. Chem. Pharm Bull. 2005;53(2):225-228.
  9. Applequist WL, Avula B, Scaneberg BT. Comparative fatty acid content of seeds of four Cucurbita species grown in a common (shared) garden. J Food Compost Anal. 2006;19(6-7):606-611.
  10. Choi H, Eo H, Park K, et al. A water-soluble extract from Cucurbita moschata shows anti-obesity effects by controlling lipid metabolism in a high fat diet-induced obesity mouse model. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2007;359(3):419-425.
  11. Barbieri L, Polito L, Bolognesi A, et al. Ribosome-inactivating proteins in edible plants and purification and characterization of a new ribosome-inactivating protein from Curcubita moschata. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2006;1760(5):783-792.