Drawing of a green and white striped squash

Cushaw Squash

(Cucurbita argyrosperma)

Squash (Cucurbita pepo var. ovifera) was a native domesticate in the Eastern Woodlands. Another species of squash (Cucurbita argyrosperma) was domesticated in Mexico and made its way to the Eastern Woodlands to become part of the diet.

Newly sprouted cushaw squash

Squash leaves are quite large, which is handy for shading the ground below and reducing soil moisture loss.

Squash is a low, sprawling plant and spreads along the ground.

Squash flower bud.

The squash fruit grows from the fertilized flower, which dries up but still hangs around for awhile.


Squash plants make lovely yellow flowers.

Squash fruit growing.

Squash with corn

Cushaw squash are "winter" type squash (vs. summer squash like yellow crookneck or zuchinni). They are yellow inside and resemble an acorn or butternut squash.

Paleoethnobotanists can distinguish between cushaw and southeastern native squash by identifying the spongy peduncle (stem) of the cushaw.

Cushaw squash seeds look very much like pumpkin seeds.

Cushaw Squash References


Fritz, Gayle

1986   Prehistoric Ozark Agriculture: The University of Arkansas Rockshelter Collections. Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

1994   Precolumbian Cucurbita argyrosperma ssp. argyrosperma (Cucurbitaceae) in the Eastern Woodlands of North America. Economic Botany 48:280-292.

2019   Feeding Cahokia: Early Agriculture in the North American Heartland. University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa.