Family • Cucurbitaceae - Cucurbita maxima - SQUASH - Fan nan gua

Scientific names

Cucurbita maxima Duchesne
Curcubita sulcata Blanco
Sun gua (Chin.)

Common names

Calabaza (Sp.)
Kabasi (Sul.)
Kabasi (Sul.)
Kalabasa (Tag., Ceb.)
Kalabasang-bilog (Tag.)
Kalabasang-pula (Tag.)
Karabasa (Ilk.)
Kumbasa (Bon.)
Giant pumpkin (Engl.)
Squash (Engl.)
Sweet-fleshed squash (Engl.)
Fan nan gua (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

AFRIKAANS : Pampoen. ITALIAN : Zucca, Zucca gigante, Giramonte.
ARABIC : Qar’islambuli, Qar’malti, Qar’maghrabi, Karr estmboly (Egypt). JAPANESE : Kuri kabocha, Seiyou kabocha, Seiyou kabocha.
CHINESE: Bei gua, jiao si gua, yang gua. NEPALESE : Kadu, Kashi phal, Pharsi, Sitaa phal.
DANISH : Centnergræskar. NORWEGIAN : Kjempegraskar.
DUTCH : Pompoen, Ronde pompoen, Reuzenpompoen, Reuzenkalebas. POLISH : Dynia duza, Dynia olbrzymia.
ESTONIAN : Suureviljaline kõrvits. PORTUGUESE : Abóbora-menina, Abóbora-moranga.
FINNISH : Jättiläiskurpitsa. RUSSIAN : Tykva gigantskaia.
FRENCH : Potiron, Giraumon, Courge-giraumon, Courge d’hiver, Grosse courge, Courge-potiron. SPANISH : Calabaza amarilla, Calabaza de cidra, Calabaza gigante, Calabaza tamalayota, Calabaza tonanera, Calabaza redonda, Quinoa, Quinua, Zapallo (Argentina).
GERMAN : Risen-Kürbis, Risenkürbis, Riesenkuerbis. SWEDISH : Jättepumpa, Pumpa.
HEBREW : Delaat gedola. URDU : Halva kaddu, Mitha kaddu.
HINDI : Kadduu, Sitaphal. YORUBA : Apala.
HUNGARIAN : Sütö tök.

Kalabasa is a coarse, prostrate or climbing, annual, herbaceous vine, reaching a length of 4 meters or more. Leaves are hispid, rounded, 15 to 30 centimeters in diameter, heart-shaped at the base, shallowly 5-lobed, with finely toothed margins, and often mottled on the upper surface. Flowers are bell-shaped, erect, yellow and about 12 centimeters long, the corolla limb is about as wide, and 5-toothed. Fruit is large, variable in shape, fleshy, with a yellow pulp. Seeds are ovoid or oblong, compressed, and about 1.3 centimeters long.


– Widely cultivated throughout the Philippines as a vegetable produce.
– Occasionally found as an escape.
– Planted in all warm countries.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Cucurbita maxima – Duchesne. ex Lam. / Winter Squash / Plants For A Future

(2) Microbiological and pharamcological studies on extracts of Cucurbita maxima / VILLASENOR I. M.; BARTOLOME A. L. O et al / PTR. Phytotherapy research / 1995, vol. 9, no5, pp. 376-378 / INIST-CNRS, Cote INIST : 21695, 35400005373809.0130

(3) Toxicity evaluation of Cucurbita maxima seed extract in mice / Summary Pharmaceutical Biology / 2006, Vol. 44, No. 4, Pages 301-303

(4) Sorting Cucurbita names / Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher, / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE

(5) Comparative Effect of Cucurbita Maxima Seed with Immunomodulators on Biochemical Parameters in Rabbits / V. Ranganathan and S. Selvasubramanian / Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science 02 (06); 2012: 191-193

(6) Antidiabetic Activity of Cucurbita maxima Aerial Parts / P. Saha, A. Bala, B. Kar, S. Naskar, U.K. Mazumder, P.K. Haldar and M. Gupta / Research Journal of Medicinal Plant, 2011, Vol 5, No: 5, pp 577-586 /
DOI: 10.3923/rjmp.2011.577.586

(7) Sterols from Cucurbita maxima / Consolacion Y. Ragasa and Kathleen Lim / Philippine Journal of Science
134 (2): 83-87, December 2005

(8) Estimation of humoral immune response in rabbits fed with Cucurbita maxima seeds / V. Ranganathan, S. Selvasubramanian and S. Vasanthakumar / Vet World 6(7):396-399 / doi:10.5455/vetworld.2013.396-399

(9) MILD STEEL CORROSION INHIBITION BY CUCURBITA MAXIMA PLANT EXTRACT IN HYDROCHLORIC ACID SOLUTION / K.Anbarasi*, V.G.Vasudha / IENT Conference Proceedings / doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.13074/ient.2013.07.13328

(10) Anti-infammatory effect of Cucurbita maxima sweet seed extract on foregut induced injury: role of oxidative stress / Irena Pshyk-Titko and Oksana Zayachkivska / The FASEB Journal

(11) CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM STIMULANT EFFECT OF THE OILS OBTAINED FROM SEEDS OF CUCURBITA MAXIMA / Doke P.P.*, Tare H.L., Sherikar A.K., Shende V.S., Deore S.R., Dama G.Y. / Journal of pharmaceutical biology, 1(1), 2011, 30-36.

(12) Antigiardial Activity of some Cucurbita Species and Lagenaria Siceraria / Ihsan Mohamed Elhadi, Waleed S. Koko*, Mahmoud M. Dahab, Yahia Mohamed El Imam, Mona Abdu Elmonem Abdu El Mageed / JOURNAL OF FOREST PRODUCTS & INDUSTRIES, 2013, 2(4), 43-47

• Phytochemical screening yielded carbohydrates, steroids, proteins and amino acids.
• Fruit contains fat, 10%; pentosan, 5.2 %; protein, 14.2%; and ash, 9/3%.
• Seeds contain fixed oil, 20-25%; a proteid, edestin. The seed’s active principle is a pepo-resin found in the cotyledons.
• Curcurbitin, a constituent in pumpkin seeds has shown anti-parasitic activity in the test tube.
• Seed extract yielded carbohydrates, saponins, and flavonoids.

• Considered anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, diuretic, tonic, vermifuge.
• Considered antidiabetic, antioxidant, anticarcinogenic.

Parts used 
Fruits, seeds, stalk.

Nutritional / Edibility
– Widely used as a vegetable in the Philippines, baked, boiled, or stewed.
– Young shoots and flowers used as green vegetable.
– A vegetable which is an excellent source of vitamin B. The shoots and flowers contain calcium, phosphorus and iron. The fruit contains calcium and vitamin A.
– Seeds are a good source of protein, zinc, and other vitamins.
– In India, fruit is largely used in curries.
– Fruit makes an excellent substitute for pumpkin in pies.

• In India, fruit pulp is often used as poultice for carbuncles, boils and ulcers.
• Dried pulp, in the form of confection, used as remedy for hemoptysis and hemorrhages from the pulmonary tract.
• For venomous insect bites, the fruit stalk in contact with the ripe gourd is cut, dried, and made into a paste and applied to venomous insect bites, especially centipedes.
• The fresh seeds, pulped or in emulsion, are used as antihelminthic. Seeds are eaten fresh to expel worms from the stomach. For tapeworms, seeds are given with sugar at bedtime, followed with a dose of castor oil in the morning.
• Seed oil used as nervine tonic.
• In Brazil, pumpkin seeds are used for stomach pain, as antiinflammatory, antipyretic and anthelminthic.
• In China, pumpkin seeds have been used for acute schistosomiasis.
• In Thailand, seeds used for kidney stones.

• Seed contains an oil. Used for lighting.
• Fruit can provide a face-mask for dry skins.


Study Findings
• Antimicrobial / Anti-inflammatory / Neuro Effects : Extracts of leaves, fruits and flowers of C. maxima were subjected to pharmacologic and microbiological studies. Results showed complete inhibition of B. subtilis and partial inhibition of E. coli. Fruits and leaves showed neuro effects: decrease motor activity, ataxia, temporary palpebral ptosis among others. Ethyl acetate extracts of flowers showed decreased respiratory rate, analgesia, diarrhea and exophthalmos.
• Toxicity evaluation of Cucurbita maxima seed extract in mice:Hydroalcoholic extract of CM seeds had a considerable safety margin and devoid of acute toxicity.
• Antigenotoxicity / Spinasterol: Study on antigenotoxic constituents of squash flowers showed isolate SQFwB2D (spinasterol) from the chloroform extract to possess the most antigenotoxicity, decreasing the mutagenicity of tetracycline by 64.7%.
• Pumpkin Seed Oil / BPH: Pumpkin seed oil has been approved by the Germany’s Commission E since 1985 for the treatment of BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia).
• Antiparasitic: Study showed that pumpkin seed can produce an antihelminthic effect. There was alteration in helminthic motility and a protheolithic effect. Egg destruction was noted in the gravid proglottids. (5)
• Antibacterial: Study of ethanol seed extract showed a spectrum of inhibition on Staph aureus, B. subtilis, P. mirabilis, K. pneumonia and E coli.
• Hypoglycemic: Study evaluated the hypoglycemic activity of fruit juice and hydro-alcoholic extract of C. maxima in STZ-induced diabetic rats. Both caused significant decrease in hyperglycemia, with the extract showing more hypoglycemic effect than the fruit juice.
• Immunomodulator: Cm seeds were tested for immunomodulatory effects using a dexamethasone-induced immunosuppression model in rabbits. Results showed Cucurbita maxima possesses potential to act as an immunomodulator.
• Antidiabetic / Aerial Parts: Study of antidiabetic activity of methanol extract of aerial parts in Wistar albino rats against STZ-induced diabetes showed fasting blood glucose reduction in a treatment-duration dependent manner.
• Anticancer / Aerial Parts: Study evaluated the antitumor activity of a methanol extract of C. maxima Duschesne aerial parts on Ehrlich Ascites Carcinoma model in mice. Results revealed significant anticancer activity attributed to its cytotoxicity and antioxidant properties.
• Sterols / Antimicrobial Activity: Study of flowers afforded a 4:1 mixture of spinasterol and 24-ethyl-5a-cholesta-7,22,25-trien-3ß-ol. Results showed slight activity against fungi A. niger and C. albicans and bacteria B. subtilis and P. aeruginosa.
• Anthelmintic / Schistosomiasis: Study of a decoction prepared from C. maxima var. alyaga seeds showed a killing effect on S. japonicum somulae in vitro, with a dose-effect relationship in the mean percentage somula death.
• Hepatoprotective: Study showed the hepatoprotective activity of methanol extracts of C maxima and Legenaria siceraria seeds against paracetamol-induced hepatotoxicity.
• Anthelmintic Activity / Comparative Study: Study compared the in-vitro anthelmintic activity of Asparagus racemosus and C. maxima against Indian model. Both ethanolic and aqueous extracts of both plants showed significant anthelminthic activity, with the EE of A. racemosus showing better activity.
• Human Overactive Urinary Bladder / Pumpkin Seed Oil: Study evaluated the effect of pumpkin seed oil from C. maxima on urinary dysfunction in human overactive bladder. Pumpkin seed oil significantly reduced the degree of OABSS (overactive bladder symptoms score).
• Anti-Inflammatory / Fruit: Study evaluated a methanol extract of fruit for anti-inflammatory activity in rats using a carrageenan induced paw edema model. Results showed potent anti-inflammatory activity. Standard reference drug was indomethacin.
• Humoral Immune Response / Seeds: Study evaluated the humoral immune response in rabbits treated with Curcubita maxima seeds. Results showed C. maxima seed powder has the ability to modulate humoral immune response in normal and immunosuppressed rabbits.
• Proteaase Inhibitory Activity / Seed Coat Extracts: Curcubita maxima and Citrullus lanatus seed coat extracts showed good protease inhibitory activity.
• Corrosion Inhibition: Study evaluated the inhibitive action of peel of Curcubita maxima on mild steel corrosion. Results showed the extract functions as a good corrosion inhibitor with IE increasing with extract concentration.
• Anti-Inflammatory / Seed Extract / Forgut Induced Injury: Results showed CMSE has the ability to maintain foregut mucosal integrity normalizing redox system activity and inflammatory mediators.
• CNS Stimulant Activity / Seed Oil:Study evaluated the CNS stimulant activity of crude drug extract in swiss albino mice. Results showed a petroleum ether extract showed good CNS stimulant effect that can be explored for therapeutic use as alternative treatment in medical conditions associated with dizziness and sedation.
• Anti-Giardial Activity::Study evaluated the antigiardial activity of C. maxima, D. curcubita pepo, and L. siceraria. Curcubita maxima petroleum ether extract of seeds showed the highest activity against Giardia lamblia. The activity could be due to the presence of triterpene (curcubitacins).

Commercial vegetable cultivation.
Pumpkin seed oil in the cybermarket.