How to Tell Female Flowers from Male Flowers on Pumpkin Plants

Save

At first glance, it may appear that all of the flowers on your pumpkin plant are the same. A closer inspection reveals distinct differences between the female flowers and the male flowers. Pumpkin plants — and other “cucurbits,” such as melons, cucumbers and squash — have both female and male flowers. Being able to detect the differences will be especially important if you plan to pollinate the flowers by hand.

Pumpkins have male and female flowers.
Pumpkins have male and female flowers.

Step 1

Look for the flowers with the long and thin stalks. These are the males. They’ll typically appear before the female flowers, and they’ll also be more abundant.

Male flowers have long, thin stalks.
Male flowers have long, thin stalks.

Step 2

Look for the stamens. Another distinguishing feature of the male flower is the presence of what appears to be a single stamen — the rod-shaped, pollen-producing part of the flower that protrudes from the center. On a male pumpkin flower, however, what appears to be only one stamen is actually more than one stamen fused together.

Male flowers have fused stamens that appear to be a single stamen in the center.
Male flowers have fused stamens that appear to be a single stamen in the center.

Step 3

Look for the flowers with the short and thick stalks. These are the females. Underneath the female flower, you’ll also notice a green, berry-sized ovary — the part that swells into a pumpkin after fertilization takes place. Fertilization is also followed by the shriveling up of the female flower.

Female flowers have an ovary underneath.
Female flowers have an ovary underneath.

Step 4

Look for the stigma. Female flowers can be identified by the multi-segmented stigma in the center. The stigma is the pollen-receiving part of the flower.

Female flowers also have multi-segmented stigma in the center.
Female flowers also have multi-segmented stigma in the center.

References

  • “The Perfect Pumpkin”; Gail Damerow; 1997
  • “The Complete Burke’s Backyard: The Ultimate Book of Fact Sheets”; Don Burke; 2005
  • “Fabulous Food From Every Small Garden”; Mary Horsfall; 2009
  • “Introductory Botany: Plants, People, and the Environment, Second Edition”; Linda Berg; 2007
Promoted By Zergnet

Comments

M
Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!