|Cucurbita pepo subsp. var.||Zucchini|
Zucchini is one of the easiest vegetables to cultivate in a temperate climate. As such, zucchini has a reputation among home gardeners for overwhelming production, and a common type of joke among home growers revolves around creative ways of giving away unwanted zucchini to people who already have been given more than they can use. One good way is to harvest the flowers, which nips the fruit production in the bud (so to speak) and provides what to many is a true delicacy. Zucchini flowers are very expensive in markets because of the difficulty in storing and transporting them. The male flower is borne on the end of a stalk and more long lived.
While easy to grow, zucchini, like all squash, requires plentiful bees for pollination. In areas of pollinator decline or high pesticide use, such as mosquito spray districts, gardeners nowadays frequently experience fruit abortion, where the fruit begins to grow, then rots or dries and does not continue growth. This is due to an insufficient number of pollen grains delivered to the female flower, and can be corrected by hand pollination or by increasing bee populations.
Zucchinis with the flowers attached are a sign of a truly fresh and immature fruit, and are especially sought by many people.
The Zucchini flower can be male or female. The female flower is a golden blossom on the end of each baby zucchini. The male flower grows directly on the stem of the Zucchini plant in the leaf axils (where leaf petiole meets stem) on a long stalk and is slightly smaller than the female. Both flowers are edible, and provide a great way to dress a meal or garnish the cooked fruit.
Pests and diseases
Closely related, to the point where some seed catalogs do not make a distinction, are Lebanese summer squash or kusa, which closely resemble zucchini but often have a lighter green or even white color.
- Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, MacMillan Co., 1963