Knucklehead pumpkins with warts on their skin, resembling the knuckles on your hand, as their name suggests. Knucklehead pumpkins are botanically known as Cucurbita pepo, a hybrid variety from crossbreeding other species.
You’ll find them growing on trailing vines and are related to gourds and squash in the Cucurbitaceae family. The winter squash pumpkin with bumps is from the Superfreak specialty line, created by the Holland, Michigan-based Siegers Seed Company.
To produce distinctive fall accents and unusual carving pumpkins, these fruits were intentionally bred to have warty skin and large, elongated size. As a result, you’ll notice that they reach full maturity in the late summer or fall in most climate zones, just in time for Halloween.
In our guide, you can learn a few more knucklehead pumpkin facts about how to grow and harvest them ready for carving. By the end, you’ll see why do some pumpkins have bumps, and others have smooth skin that looks more appealing. (Read Can Pigs Eat Corn)
What Are Knucklehead Pumpkins?
One might assume warty pumpkins in your pumpkin patch have a disease or fungus. But, if you have never grown pumpkins, you may wonder, have you harvested too late, and will you see your pumpkins start rotting?
Don’t worry; your pumpkin patch doesn’t have a disease, as these knucklehead pumpkins are genetically engineered to have this appearance. It can take around 10 generations of cross-breeding to produce a warty knucklehead pumpkin.
Since being acquired by Stokes Seeds, Siegers Seed Company was responsible for creating and patenting Knucklehead pumpkins. The pumpkin has green or orange vertical ridges, and the warty skins show the pumpkin’s maturity.
One thing to note is if you save any seeds expecting to grow Knuckle head squash, you’ll be disappointed. Your seeds won’t grow true. To get the complete warty knuckle head squash look, you must buy seeds that have selective breeding to grow the unusual pumpkins with warts.
Varieties of Knucklehead pumpkin seeds
Now that knucklehead pumpkin are a sought-after commodity; growers are constantly creating new varieties. If you would like to try, some popular seeds are:
- Frankenstein Scarface: Bright orange and oval shape, which harvests in 100 days.
- Warty Goblin: Hardshell that is orange with green bumps.
- Marina di Chioggia: A warty blue squash
- Galeux Eysines: The blistered skin looks like peanut shells.
Can You Eat Knucklehead Pumpkins?
Yellow-orange flesh with cream-colored seeds makes up knucklehead pumpkins. Knucklehead pumpkins are decorative pumpkin, yet they can be cooked and offer a sweet, mild flavor.
These warty pumpkins roast, bake and boil well. Roasting and using the flesh in soups for Thanksgiving is a great way to use your warty pumpkins. You can use knucklehead pumpkins in sweet recipes like pumpkin chili, pumpkin cookies, muffins, puddings and pumpkin cakes.
Roasted, salted seeds make a healthy snack. Once you get past warts, you can use them in cooking like a regular pumpkin. (Read Will Frost Kill Grass Seed)
How Big Can Knucklehead Pumpkins Grow?
Everyone has seen the warty pumpkins that have a ghoulish appearance and are sold in the grocery store around Thanksgiving and Halloween. They are small, although knucklehead pumpkins have the potential to be big, whereas most knucklehead pumpkins have a 12- 16 pounds weight limit.
Depending on where you live, your bumpy pumpkins’ harvest time is between late fall and early winter. Between planting and harvest, it takes approximately 100 to 110 days.
Natural Reasons for Warty Pumpkins
What if you are confident that the pumpkins you are growing are not a particular variety raised for their warts? In that case, a virus might be the problem.
A smooth-skinned pumpkin may turn bumps because of the mosaic virus. In this situation, the bumps will appear to be skin-related. Small leaves on the plant and leaves with blotches are symptoms of this virus, which is spread by aphids on a bale of hay and a pumpkin with the mosaic virus.
A pumpkin with cucurbit warts caused by the mosaic virus may resemble one specifically bred to have them. For this reason, it’s important to remember what seeds you planted!
Edema is another cause that contributes to bumpy pumpkins. Your pumpkins may suffer edema if your growing season is cool and wet because they absorb too much water. For the same reason, this is like tomatoes with cracked skin.
If the fruit of the pumpkin takes in too much water, the plant cells swell, grow more extensive, and eventually burst. This creates a scar that, as time passed, is raised, dried and resembles a wart.
Growing Knucklehead Pumpkins
Smooth pumpkins were once popular, but lately, knucklehead pumpkins, or pumpkins with warts, appear to be the in thing.
What You Need:
- Knucklehead pumpkin seeds
- Compost or other organic matter
- Hose or watering can
- Pick a location that receives full sunlight.
- Till the soil and add organic matter or compost to it.
- After all potential frost has passed, plant. Warm soil is ideal for knucklehead pumpkin plants to grow.
- Plant the seeds a half to an inch deep.
- The seeds should be evenly spaced. Knucklehead pumpkins can grow 12 inches, and the vines require space to spread out.
- To promote warmth, plant in 12–18-inch mounds.
- Water thoroughly and let drain. While not saturated, the soil should be damp.
Harvest and Storage
Depending on your variety, harvest can be done in 100 to 110 days. Harvest when the skin is stiff, and the pumpkins are no longer naturally damp. Harvesting should leave a stem.
Keep in a dry location, and cool between 55- and 70-degrees Fahrenheit with average humidity. Well-cured pumpkins can typically be stored for up to three months. Seeds can be stored for several months in an airtight container after they have been dried and roasted. (Learn How To Know When Zucchini Is Bad)
Roasted Knuckle Heads taste like other squash and pumpkin varieties. To roast, select a small to medium pumpkin, cut off the top, and remove seeds and stringy flesh. 45–50 minutes at 350°F.
Note that cooking times vary by pumpkin size and be careful when cutting the thick skins. To puree pumpkin, steam or roast the flesh, let it cool, and put it in a food processor.
Pumpkins are high in vitamins A, C, tryptophan, and fiber and taste healthy. In addition, seeds contain healthy fatty acids, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc. Seeds contain anti-parasitic, diuretic, and anti-inflammatory chemicals. In addition, leaves and rind are antimicrobial, all at no extra cost.
High amounts of beta-carotene in the orange fruit flesh make the pumpkin plant a powerful antioxidant that may protect against cancer, asthma, heart disease, and slow aging.
Types of Warty Pumpkin In Full
‘Knucklehead’ pumpkins are small to medium-sized, oval-shaped fruits with warty skin. This orange pumpkin fruit has vertical ridging when mature. ‘Knucklehead’ pumpkins have yellow-orange flesh and cream-colored flat seeds.
Fall through early winter, ‘knucklehead’ pumpkins are plentiful. This fruit has a smooth texture and sweet, mild flavor when cooked. They’re usually used in baking, boiling, or roasting.
These fruits can be cooked with other vegetables as a meat side dish, added to salads, or turned into soups. In addition, their flesh is used to make pies, tarts, muffins, cakes, custards, and bread. Pumpkin seeds make a healthy snack. ‘Knucklehead’ pumpkins are long and ideal for fall carving. The average height of this fruit is 12 inches tall, 10 inches wide, and 12 to 16 pounds.
Marina di Chioggia
Marina di Chioggia is an Italian garden heirloom variety from Chioggia. This garden pumpkin belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family with gourds. Because there is too much sugar in the skin and flesh, Marina di Chioggia has dark green to gray-blue skin and sugar warts.
This pumpkin has yellow-orange flesh and cream-colored seeds. This fall-to-winter fruit is popular in Italy. Marina di Chioggia is sold in farm stands and markets when in season. It’s popular street food in Venice, where it’s sliced, grilled, and salted.
This type of pumpkin is usually roasted, grilled, baked, or steamed. Its sweet and nutty flavor blends well with various dishes and is added to sauces, stews, minestrones, or risotto. Roasted fruits go well with pasta, warm salads, and flatbreads. Pureed, they can fill tortellini and ravioli.
Like ‘Knucklehead’ pumpkins, they can make desserts. They’re versatile fruits that are packed with nutrients, including beta-carotene.
Galeux d’ Eysines
Galeux d’ Eysines is also called warted sugar marrow and peanut pumpkin. A rare French heirloom variety from Bordeaux is known for sweet flesh. Galeux d’ Eysines is medium to large with a round, flat top and bottom. The skin should be salmon-peach and covered with peanut shell-like warts when ripe.
Galeux d’ Eysines is available fall through winter like the first two warty pumpkin types. It’s used for decoration but also great for cooking because it contains vitamins A and C, fiber, potassium, and beta-carotene. Galeux d’ Eysines plant is used for baking, roasting, grilling, and sautéing. Its smooth, tender texture and sweet flavor resemble an apple and a sweet potato.
Black Futsu is a 17th-century Japanese heirloom pumpkin variety. Black Futsu is popular in Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe, and the U.S. The early-ripening winter pumpkin variety is excellent for cooking and making fall and winter decorations.
This pumpkin is 3 to 5 pounds and blocky. Its dark green skin is heavily ribbed and covered in warts. Black Futsu pumpkins are delicious and packed with vitamins A and C, fiber, calcium, iron, and beta-carotene.
Black Futsu pumpkins can be roasted, baked, boiled, or stir-fried. They can also be tempura-fried, pickled, pureed for pie filling, or made into soup. (Read Roundup How Long Before Rain Guide)
‘Red Warty Thing’
The ‘Red Warty Thing’ is made by mixing red hubbard squash and pumpkin. This warty pumpkin has 13-foot-long vines. They were named ‘Victor’ in 1897, although modern pumpkin varieties reduced their popularity.
The seed bank stored their seeds. Then, in the early 2000s, ‘Red Warty Thing’ pumpkins were reintroduced. Because of their bright orange skin and bumps, they’re used for decorations and cooking.
Pumpkins from the ‘Red Warty Thing’ amount are high in vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and beta-carotene. Roasted, steamed, boiled, or baked. So Pureed they make tarts, cakes, pies, muffins, and puddings.