What's this mystery squash?
July 9, 2019 9:59 AM   Subscribe

What's this mystery squash? (ignore that the vine has climbed into my mandarin tree, it's a squash)

So this squash grew from a mystery seed that survived in some backyard compost that I used when potting a different plant. It's doing really well and it's clearly some kind of squash - not shown are the very squash-like leaves a huge yellow flowers. But it doesn't really look like any squash I'm familiar with or can google. Maybe the ridges are just because it's immature, but maybe not? Maybe it's just an overgrown yellow squash? But it seems to pale? It started this light yellow color and has stayed that way as it's grown in size.
posted by GuyZero to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A lot of volunteer squash are different from the parent plant because the parent is a hybrid. Anyway I wouldn't recommend eating it - these volunteers can have a lot of cucurbitacin toxin. This person reports that their hybrid was really bitter so maybe it would be safer if it weren't bitter, but personally I wouldn't try.
posted by exogenous at 10:11 AM on July 9, 2019 [6 favorites]

Squashes cross-pollinate, so you can easily get "volunteer" plants from compost that look between-y compared to cultivated varieties. On preview: what exogenous says. We've had weirdos that were edible (if not that great) but caveat etc.
posted by holgate at 10:17 AM on July 9, 2019 [4 favorites]

Never in a million years would I have googled "volunteer squash" so this is very informative!
posted by GuyZero at 10:41 AM on July 9, 2019 [2 favorites]

Yup, a random F1 hybrid would maybe be ok, an F2 would almost certainly be unpleasant in some way. Squash fruit morphology is highly variable and you can see a hundred different shapes/colors/size in a hundred different offspring of the same plant.

If the fruit is plentiful I’d cook a small portion and try it first before eating more. The toxin discussed above is real but to my knowledge there’s no way you’d want to eat much of it if the toxin is at dangerous levels, that’s the whole point.
posted by SaltySalticid at 10:41 AM on July 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

I should have been more clear in my early comment about my reasons for not trying the fruit — it's more that I dislike squash and especially bitter squash than it is a fear that unperceived toxin would take hold.

Oddly enough we got a ton of volunteer squash-looking plants from our home compost this year too, despite not eating much (Halloween pumpkins maybe), but I remove them on sight.
posted by exogenous at 11:03 AM on July 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you grew squash last year there's a good chance it's a cross of something you grew. Acorn x yellow squash seems like a possibility, esp. since both are the same species.
posted by drlith at 11:12 AM on July 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

I saved seeds from a prolific "volunteer" acorn squash a couple of years ago and carefully planted them the next year. I thought I was losing my mind when they came up looking like fat zucchini. Thankfully someone filled me in on the cross-pollination but didn't get the memo on the curcurbitacin toxin until this thread. We at lots of fat acorn/zucchini and they were delicious. I planted more seeds this year. So yes, think back to what you had in the garden last year.
posted by Cuke at 3:45 PM on July 9, 2019 [1 favorite]

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