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A Guide to Pumpkin Types

The Best Pumpkins to Display on Your Porch


People are getting picky about their pumpkins, and that bin of dusty orange ones at the local grocery store is not going to produce the perfect specimen to display on the porch or by the door with the other decorations. You've seen the white ones, the green ones, the tall ones and squat ones. But what are their names and varieties? We introduce you to some of the more noteworthy pumpkins, along with their physical attributes.

Pumpkin terms

  • Skin: The outside, colored part of the pumpkin.
  • Flesh: the stuff inside, used for cooking.
  • Carvability: If the pumpkin is fairly easy to carve with a knife or pumpkin-carving kit. If not, it's probably more suited for painting or leaving it alone.
  • Shape: Pumpkins aren't just round. They can be squat, tall, long, uneven, etc.
  • Texture: Glide your fingers across the pumpkin's skin. Is it bumpy, slightly rough, or smooth as a baby's bottom? That's the pumpkin's texture.
  • Ribbing: If you were drawing a pumpkin, the ribbing would be those vertical stripes you create to indicate it's a pumpkin and not some other round object. Deep ribbing is noted.
  • Size: Pretty straightforward -- big, small, miniature, medium. Sometimes indicated in weight.
  • Keeps well: Describes a pumpkin's "shelf life" or if it has a tendency to last a few months (uncarved) or quickly wither off the vine.

The Big Boys

&copy Lisa Hallett Taylor
Big, fat, monster-sized pumpkins are the stars of county fairs and pumpkin harvest festivals, where they are trucked in and hoisted on scales. Like farm animals, the biggest pumpkin is the winner of an event, usually earning an award, ribbon, cash prize and notoriety. They also make eye-catching displays on porches and in public places. Large pumpkins are not grown to be eaten or carved. Why? They're too big. Think about it.

Musquee de Provence
Ribbing: Large and deep

Blues and Greens

flickr user bcrueltyfree
Blue Lakota:
An heirloom variety from the Midwest. A mix of blue and green.
Ribbing: Slight
Shape: Oblate; top at step comes to a point or cone-shape

Blue Max: See Jarrahdale, below. Color is pale blue.

Also known as Japanese Pumpkin, Ebisu, Delica, Hoka, Hokkiado Pumpkin. Popular in Japan; grown in other nations for export to Japan.
Skin: Tough and green
Flesh: Yellow; stays firm and retains shape after cooking
Shape: Rounded, irregular

Produced in Japan.
Skin: Grey with orange stripes or ribbing
Size: 5 to 8 pounds
Carvability: Good
Edible: Not a first choice for cooking, but Kakai is popular for its blue seeds, which can be roasted.

An Australian heirloom pumpkin that was developed as a cross between the Cinderella and Blue Hubbard.
Shape: Flattened but rounded like Cinderella
Skin: Light blue / gray
Ribbed: Deeply
Flesh: Golden yellow
Edible: Some pumpkin experts believe Jarrahdales are the finest pumpkins for making pumpkin pies.
Display: Teamed with their red-orange sisters, the Cinderellas, they could potentially be the best-looking porch pumpkin display in town.

Marina Di Chioggia
A green heirloom Italian variety.
Skin: Thick and warty
Shape: Squat
Size: 6 to 12 pounds
Flesh: Yellow / orange
Edible: Nice and sweet flavor makes it a favorite for cooking

Cheese Pumpkins

So-called because they resemble a wheel of cheese, the pale yellow-orange cheese pumpkins come in a variety of sizes and are striking displayed at different levels on the porch or porch steps by themselves or with bright orange pumpkins and flower pots filled with fall-blooming flowers like chrysanthemums and calendulas.

Long Island Cheese A classic pumpkin of the 19th century.
Skin: Pale cheese colored
Ribbing: Light
Flesh: Deep orange
Shape: Medium; averages 10 pounds. Keeps well.
Edible: Sweet Varieties include 'Long Island Cheese' 'Shakertown Field'

Ghostly White Pumpkins

white pumpkins grasses
Photo &copy Lisa Hallett Taylor
Baby Boo
No, not that curly-haired little girl on TLC's Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, although it might be a good nickname for her niece (just watch the show). Skin: Bright white; tends to turn yellow if exposed to direct sunlight.
Size: Miniature
Ribbing: Deep
Edible: No.
Carvability: Too small


Skin: Brilliant white
Texture: Smooth
Flesh: Bright yellow
Edible: Valued for its flavor; good for baking
Carvability: It can be carved or painted; however, it doesn't last long.

Casper: Bright white
Shape: More round than squat with only slight ribbing.
Edible: Good for pies and baking
Carvability: Better to leave alone or paint than carve

White Ghost (Also known as Valencia)
Skin: Pure white
Flesh: Bright yellow and thick
Shape: Squat
Edible: Good
Carvability: Challenging

Grayish Green Pumpkins

Carly and Art
An old French heirloom variety.
Skin:Dark green with orange/peach blush when young. As it ages, the dark green turns to buff orange
Flesh: Bright orange
Shape: With its flatness and deep ribbing, Fairytale bears a striking resemblance to the Cinderella pumpkin
Size: About 15 inches diameter; 6 inches high and 20 to 30 pounds
Carvability: Not good
Edible: A good choice for cooking or baking pumpkin pies


mini pumpkins
&copy Lisa Hallett Taylor
Baby Boo
See above, Ghostly Whites

Pump Ke Mon
Also known as Lil Pump Ke Mon
Skin: Variable coloration; usually white or yellow with green or yellow stripes and splotches. Keeps well.

Skin: Yellow with orange mottling
Ribs: Deep at the top, then fading at the bottom
Shape: Flat with recessed stem
Size: About 5 inches diameter; 3 inches high

Red-Orange Pumpkins

picture of white pumpkins
&copy Robinette
Cinderella (Rouge, Rouge Vif d'Estampes)
Cinderella pumpkins have become increasingly popular in recent years for their shape, bright color and fairytale-enchanting name. To add further intrigue, legend has it that this variety inspired the pumpkin carriage in the story of Cinderella.
Shape: flattened, yet rounded -- like that carriage.
Ribbed: Deeply
Edible: Semi-sweet and good for pies.
Display: Attention-getters because of their bright red-orange skin and whimsical shape. They look especially smart displayed on top of an outdoor urn or stacked on top of one another, intermittently with faux or real fall leaves.

An heirloom variety that hails from the Midwest.
Skin: Red with green and black markings that follow light ribbing (lines).
Shape: Pear-shaped
Size: Weighs 5 to 7 pounds
Edible: Delicious butternut squash-like flavor.

Red Warty (aka Red Warty Thing)
Skin: Warty, bumpy, pimply red skin
Flesh: Non-stringy
Size: Can grow up to 20 pounds
Edible: Better for cooking and eating than carving a face
Display: Since it resembles a warty Halloween witch or creature, one or more Red Warties are effective displayed unadorned, maybe next to something slightly spooky.

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