Cucurbita pepo – Zucchini Varieties

Zucchini varieties are more numerous than you can imagine. Zucca is an Italian word for pumpkin and ini (from ino and ina means “little”). In Italy all squash are zuccas. There are big zuccas like our American field pumpkins and small zuccas like zucchinis.

The botanical name is Cucurbita pepo. Remember that if you’re ever seed swapping with someone from Italy. I’ll explain in a second.

Grow tip: Zucchinis are prone to fungal diseases like powdery mildew so water in the morning at the base and keep the leaves dry. Wet leaves (on most plants, including roses) on a warm night is a welcome mat to fungal disease, that’s the conditions they thrive in.

My recent favorite zucchini varieties include:

1. Costata Romanesco, a deep ribbed Italian heirloom pictured above. Seeds from Botanical Interests are currently on sale.

They grow big, produce well, and so far, knock wood, disease free. You will want to save seeds from this variety.

2. Tromboncino, a vining summer squash, and again, an Italian heirloom. It is also known as Zucchini Rampicante, Zucchetta, Tromba d’Albenga and Trombetta di Albenga.

Grow tip: It needs a trellis. It’s a monster that can grow 10-15 feet with proper care.  Pick anywhere from 8″-18.” After that, if left unpicked it becomes very long like 6ft and very hard like a gourd.

Interesting fact: if  Tromboncino Squash vines grow untrellised along the ground the fruits will grow in circles around itself.

Almost all summer squash are cultivars of Cucurbita pepo. Tromboncino, however, is a cultivar of Cucurbita moschata. Its botanical name is Cucurbita moschata ‘Tromboncino.’ 
If an Italian farmer want to trade seeds with me and I think he’s giving me zucchini (Cucurbita pepo), but he’s actually giving me tromboncino (Cucurbita moschata),  this is what happens- the tromboncino cross-pollinates with my prized, heirloom butternut squash (also Cucurbita moschata) and I don’t find out about it till the following season when those seeds produce fruits that are some type of mash-up of tromboncino and butternut squash. Can you imagine?
Always label your seeds properly!

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