Giant Pumpkin

(Cucurbita maxima) There is more to pumpkins than Hallowe'en essentials. It is usually associated with North America, but it is more likely that it has South American origins. But it is widely travelled, and pumpkins and gourds generally, though not necessarily this species, appear often as a motif in Chinese art. They are also used as decoration: it was the practice at one time to encase a gourd while small in an intaglio mould, leaving only a hole for the stalk. As the gourd swelled it filled the mould, and the design was impressed into the surface. Gourds were also used in China for cricket cages (Savage. 1964).

Some of the American Indians used pumpkin seed tea as a diuretic; so do people in Alabama still. They say they are excellent in a tea for kidney troubles, but at the same time Alabama children used to be dosed with it to stop them bed-wetting (R B Browne). Another use for the seeds is for a worm powder. They are apparently very efficient when crushed and made into a paste with milk and honey, and then taken three times before breakfast (Page. 1978). As an example of the wrong end of the stick, note the belief in Maine that, though pumpkins may be good for the eyesight, they are apt to breed worms in the stomach which make one itch (Beck).


A name that has served for a number of plants, perhaps modified for convenient identification, as in Clove Gilliflower for carnation, or Stock Gilliflower for stock, and Wall Gilliflower for wallflower, which can be Yellow Gilliflower, too. The word has appeared in a lot of different guises, from Geraflour (Britten & Holland), a Scottish variant, through such close affines as Gilliver, Gillyfer or Gillyver, and reduced to Gilver in the Isle of Man (Moore, Morrison & Goodwin). To make sure that we understand that the 'g' is soft, a 'j' is often used, hence the Yorkshire Jilliver, and such West country forms as Jilloffer. The variants continue - Jilloffer can become Jilly Offers (Macmillan), and gilliflower easily becomes July-flower, and so on. Grindon notes no less than seventeen variations of the 'gilliflower' name in use in the 15th and 16th century. Actually, the word comes from Caryophyllus (Carnation is Dianthus caryophyllus), and so means "clove". So such a form as Clove Gilliflower for carnation is pleonastic.

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