Can you eat cross pollinated squash? This is one common question that some growers would like to know and we will answer this in this post. We have different types of squash and they come from the family of Cucurbitaceae plants. Squash examples include zucchini, pumpkins, guard, and the likes.
Squash is a type of fruit that has seeds in its internal part and they are derived from the flowering plant of plants.
Cross pollination happens when two separate plants exchange their pollen grains and pistil to give rise to a new variety that has the characteristic of the two parent plant. Now cross pollination can occur between different types of squash variety.
It is possible for different squash varieties that are planted close to each other to cross pollinate even when that is not our intention in the first place. Can you eat cross pollinated squash? Is cross pollinated edible is the question we would like to know?
So, this article will give you the answer to your troubling questions about if you can eat cross pollinated squash.
Identifying Squash Plants By Leaves
Identifying Squash Plants By Leaves
Are Cross Pollinated Squash Edible Or Consumable?
Can you eat cross pollinated squash? The straight up answer is that cross pollinated squash is mostly inedible. It isn’t a good thing to consume cross pollinated squash. Reason being that they contain a large amount of cucurbitacin. Consuming cross pollinated squash may simply be toxic to your health.
Now the normal squash contains a reasonable amount of cucurbitacin which is safe for consumption. However, the high concentration of cucurbitacin tends to taste very bitter.
Squash Cross Pollination
From what we mentioned above, cross pollination occurs by exchanging male and female gametes between two separate plants to produce offspring. Cross pollination does occur among squash. If you plant two same or different squash varieties, it’s possible they cross pollinate with each other to yield totally new offspring.
In fact, cross pollination can occur in squashes and pumpkins. It is possible for all these species to cross pollinate amongst each other.
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Seed Saving From Squash
It is pretty rewarding to save seeds from your garden. However, you need to be careful of the type of seed being saved particularly if they have been cross pollinated. If the seeds of cross pollinated offspring of squash are saved and planted the following year, it may give rise to a totally different plant that is inedible.
Although, not all types of squash are compactable to cross pollinate. Below we have listed some categories of squash that tend to cross pollinate with each other.
What Squash Will Cross Pollinate With Other Squash?
As we have mentioned, different squash can cross pollinate with each other. The following squashes from each group can cross pollinate with each other.
- Zucchini, acorn, delicata, pattypan, yellow crookneck, and spaghetti squash. Pumpkins and gourds can also cross pollinate with these groups of squash.
- Buttercup, butternut, Hubbard, and turban squash.
All these plants can be easily cross pollinated by insects. Their separate male and female flower increase the chances of the female flower becoming fertilized with different pollen grain from a different variety species or the same species. These combinations of plants may end up yielding inedible fruits.
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Why Cross Pollinated Squash Tends To Be Toxic?
Normally, the plants of the Cucurbitaceae family are meant to produce a toxic compound which is cucurbitacin. This toxic compound usually acts as a natural defense against insects.
This cucurbitacin toxic compound is present in wild squash, cucumbers, as well as other cucurbits in a substantial amount. So, because of the large amount of cucurbitacin compound in the wild, these types of squash and cucumbers tend to taste very bitter.
However, the domesticated variety often contains a very little amount of this compound that isn’t harmful to the human when consumed. Also, the domesticated squash variety that is grown in the garden and the ones purchased from the stores usually has a less bitter taste. And this is due to the varying amount of bitter compound.
But there are some factors that can cause this bitter and toxic compound to increases its concentration in squash. They are; other product that has been cross pollinated with wild plants and some types of stress during their growth (stress like lack of water or poor fertilization).
Therefore, if you come across any squash such as zucchini, pattypan, acorn squash, and the likes, and you didn’t plant them in your garden, you should definitely avoid them. Even consuming a small amount of this type of cross pollinated squash can be pretty toxic to your health.
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Can Insect Pollinating Bees Cross Pollinate Squash?
Squash are insect-pollinated plants. Hence it is possible for bees to cross pollinate squash. You may even be growing just one type of squash variety in your garden, bees can simply collect a different pollen grain from your neighborhood and cross pollinate it with yours. Then this gives rise to new offspring.
As we said, you should totally avoid any type of squash you didn’t plant in your garden. They are simply toxic squash and should be removed from your garden.
How To Avoid Cross Pollinated Squash In Your Garden
If you wish to avoid cross pollination between squashes, do the following;
- It is required you separate them by a good distance of one and a half to a mile.
- Additionally, you can build some barriers to drastically reduce the chances of pollinators to cross pollinate your plants. Large barriers such as thick standing trees, a hill, large buildings, and so on may help slow down pollinators from around your neighborhood.
- Furthermore, you can cage or net your entire plants. Or you can simply tape new male and female flowers as they begin to form (i.e. right before they open). But this method usually requires hand pollination of flowers once they are ready to pollinate.
So, we have answered the question; can you eat cross pollinated squash? Hence, if you encounter a cross pollinated squash, it is very likely they contain a huge amount of the toxic compound cucurbitacin.
So, do well to avoid eating them so you don’t experience serious illness as a result of consuming them.
Are Cross Pollinated Squash Edible?
No. Cross pollinated squashes aren't edible. Because they contain a large amount of cucurbitacin.
What Squash Will Cross Pollinate?
Zucchini, acorn, delicata, patty pan, yellow crookneck, and spaghetti squash are squashes that can cross pollinate each other.
Can Bees Cross Pollinate Squash?
Yes. Bees can pollinate squash because squash are insect pollinated plants.