|Authors: ||S.Z. Fischer, R.M.N. Peil , R.S. Neitzke , E.R.T. Stumpf, R.L. Barbieri, J.E. Schwengber , C.S. Vasconcellos|
|Keywords: ||Cucurbita, Cucurbitaceae, morphological characterization, genetic resources, Active Germplasm Bank|
In Brazil, landraces of ornamental Cucurbita are cultivated by farmers.
The seeds are transferred from one generation to another, and seeds are also exchanged between neighbors and relatives.
In the process of Brazilian colonization, each ethnic group was carrying out its own seeds of Cucurbitaceae, among them the pumpkins and squashes (Cucurbita), taking also the knowledge related to the planting, management, harvesting and storage of the seeds.
More than genetic heritage, these landraces are part, therefore, of a cultural heritage, which includes everything from the name that is assigned to them by their use.
However, much of this genetic variability has been lost due to neglect of cultivation or the replacement of landraces by commercial varieties, particularly hybrids.
In order to conserve these genetic resources, Embrapa Temperate Agriculture implemented in 2002, the Cucurbitaceae Active Germplasm Bank in southern Brazil.
This Bank currently has 327 accessions of Cucurbita, mostly donated by family farmers from the states of Rio Grande do Sul and Parana.
The Bank has representatives of the five domesticated species of squashes and pumpkins grown in Brazil (Cucurbita argyrosperma, C. ficifolia, C. maxima, C. moschata and C. pepo). This paper aims to describe the ornamental Cucurbita accessions belonging to the Cucurbitaceae Active Germplasm Bank from Embrapa Temperate Agriculture. Cucurbita maxima and C. pepo are those whose characteristics show more potential for ornamental use.
The fruits have high genetic variability for external morphological characteristics such as color, shape, texture, design formed by the secondary color and fruit size.
This variability in fruit characteristics is responsible for the diversity of names assigned to each type, as, “star pumpkin”, “egg pumpkin” and “mushroom pumpkin”. One interesting aspect is that all the donors of squashes and pumpkins ornamental accessions stem from German immigrants who came to southern Brazil in 19th and 20th centuries.
The characteristics that show the ornamental use in Cucurbita fruits are related to colors, shapes, designs formed by the secondary color, texture of the shell and size.
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