I grew some butternut this year and they turned out great but one of the vines has started producing something that doesn't look like a butternut:

enter image description here

In hunting around the closest image I've found so far is from this blog: http://recipe-junkie.blogspot.com/2012/10/bish-bosh-lots-of-squash-some-soup.html

My questions:

Is this a cross-pollinated butternut or a recognized vegetable? If the latter, what is it called? Is it edible, and if so how can I tell when it's edible?

  • 1
    Looks like a smaller blue hubbard or similar - what size is it?
    – J. Musser
    Nov 25, 2014 at 0:40
  • Were you growing any other squash nearby? I know cross-pollination isn't generally supposed to give you changes in the same generation, but sometimes it does (e.g. pumpkin pollinated by spaghetti squash can easily be stringy in the same generation). I had a zucchini that I purposefully cross-pollinated with a pumpkin that looked quite different than the others in the same generation. We've had a similar thing happen with round tomatoes by pear tomatoes (which changed shape in the same generation). Coincidences, maybe, but I doubt it! (Especially that zucchini-pumpkin cross) :) Nov 25, 2014 at 1:38
  • 2
    @J.Musser it's about 8 to 12 inches long.
    – Guy
    Nov 25, 2014 at 4:05
  • 2
    @Shule No, I'm beginning to think that some rouge seeds got planted. Very curious to try and eat it but not sure when to...
    – Guy
    Nov 25, 2014 at 4:07
  • 1
    @Guy If you remember what the male flowers looked like before they bloomed, C. moschata squash flowers have a unique look to them at that point (at least they're a lot different than C. maxima, C. pepo and C. ficifolia; I'm not sure if they look like C. argyrosperma's). Butternut is C. moschata (so, if it doesn't look like C. moschata, that can show you it's at least not pure C. moschata (and probably not partial, either). Blue Hubbard is C. maxima. Oct 27, 2017 at 22:59

1 Answer 1


Squash varieties in the same species freely cross. If you want to save your seeds for reuse, you have to grow only one variety from each species -- and hope that none of your nearby neighbors grows squash. Note that a single species can have varieties that include summer, winter, and ornamental fruit.

The shape of the fruit is determined solely by the genetics of the fruiting plant, or so my botany teacher told me. You have an unusual one because the people you got the seed from got a bee wandering in from some place that had a compatible squash of a different type. @Shule's comment above indicates that the pollen can affect the fruit. Is this odd one on a plant that has normal looking squash, or are all the squash on this plant odd. If it is a single squash, the Shule is correct, although I don't understand why yet. If they are all like that, then I suspect you had a weird seed in the packet.

As far as I know all the crosses are edible. You won't poison yourself. Some are tasteless, some have woody or stringy textures. Winter keeping will be variable.

The seeds aren't likely to breed true, but it doesn't hurt to try.

A comment asked me to list the hybridization groups. I thought there were 4 that included interspecies hybrids. There are 7 hybridization groups, 4 cucurbits and 2 cucumis, and one citrullus. Note that the species and the use do not correllate well.

From Walter Reeves web site:

Group A: Cucurbita pepo:

Summer Squash
  • Crookneck, straight neck squash.
  • Zuccini, Cocozelle
  • Scallop, Pattypan
Winter Squash
  • Acorn
  • Spaghetti
Ornamental Gourds
  • Many

(And this is why the hybrids may have odd taste/texture.

Group B Cucurbita moschata

Winter Squash
  • Butternet
  • Cheese
  • Dickinson Field
  • Golden Cushaw
  • Kentucky Field

Group C Cucurbita maxima

Winter squash
  • Hubbard
  • Big Max
  • King of the Mammoths
  • Mammoth Chile
  • Mammoth Prize
  • Atlantic Giant
Ornamental squash
  • Alladin
  • Turk’s Turban

Group D Cucurbita argyrosperma (formerly mixta)


Green-Striped Cushaw Japanese Pie Tennessee Sweet Potato White Cushaw Mixta Gold

Group E Cucumis sativus

  • All slicing and pickling Cucumbers (except Armenian cucumber):
  • Beit Alpha cucumber
  • Lemon cucumber

Group F Cucumis melo

  • Armenian (Snake cucumber or Serpent melon)
  • All muskmelons
  • Casaba
  • Honeydew

Group G Citrullus lanatus

  • All watermelons
  • All citrons
  • By the 4 groups, do you mean the species? I guess special differences can vary. There are more than 4 species. Do you mean Cucurbita argyrosperma, C. maxima, C. moschata, and C. pepo?
    – J. Musser
    Dec 20, 2014 at 4:34
  • I've read that of the various species/cultivars of domesticated squash, they can be divided into 4 groups that hybridize easily within the group., but that hybrization between groups is uncommon. This is not uncommon. Poplars are split into 5 groups. It's messier there, certain groups can cross, in addition to in group crosses. Dec 20, 2014 at 23:47
  • Please name the groups.
    – J. Musser
    Dec 21, 2014 at 0:02

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