Saturday, August 21, 2010


Italian Gardeners' Association Cucuzza Squash Drill Team, Los Gatos, 2007. Photo: Chris Wiley, Los Gatos Observer


Always read the label and head for the computer when you plant something new.

The label, all those weeks ago, said Italian Squash. I read that part. How weird could that be? Squash is squash. The plants were spindly. Now the leaves are twice the size of my outstretched palm. Tonight I decided to google the plant, as the leaves smell very funny. Like burned hair. In stark contrast to the sweet-smelling and gorgeous white, night-blooming flowers held aloft on long, soft stems.

Squash flower, 6.11pm

And the leaves themselves are highly tactile - I decided that they feel like a Labrador's ears. If a Labrador had green ears. Very soft and smooth and furry. And calming when stroked. For you and the Labrador.

Turns out these mothers grow to feet long! And should be supported on a helluva trellis. They are gourds.


And the leaves are edible. The small ones. Chopped into tomato 'gravy.' Which brings me to their better-known name in some circles: gagootz. Or gogoots. That's Italian-American to you. Also slang for a useless person. You big googoots!

Squash flower, 7.06pm

There seems to be a bit of confusion on the web about its botanical name, and the closest I can get is Benincasa hispada (already an incredibly interesting start: Benin! Casa? Hispada?) - yet it's native to India. Feel free to jump in here at any point...Botanists*? Latin scholars? Food historians?

Squash flower, 7.07pm

Question: Who is pollinating these blooms at night? What is going on up there in the dark?

Squash tendrils through the skylight, as we speak...

* 8-21-10 Update: new information just in, shall write follow up post.


  1. Godpietherepa - you've got triffids. Hope mine don't turn out like that.


  2. Wow, fascinating, and love the Italian slang term and the hilarious drill team photo! I've read about having a night-flowering garden...where scent is the main feature...these guys sound like they would be stars in such a garden. Moths and bats are the usual pollinators of night-blooming plants. The tendril reaching for the skylight seems ever so slightly ominous...

  3. Hey - check your gmail for pdf of your mysterious squash.

  4. Jane, I know. Los gatos.

    Hen - I'm weeping with laughter: I thought 'God pie the repa' must be some insider-reference to day of the triffids. Then I thought you must have had a brain spasm or something. Then I realized we were speaking Afrikaans!

    Hey - they might be nice on the fence?

    QC - night-scented is wonderful, and very easy. I am tempted to go there at night and wait for the pollinators...

    Thank you D - got it!

  5. whatever you hear during the night, don't look up. you may need a shade on your skylight. remember, if you can see them, they can see you.

  6. Mom and Dad used to grow this when we were kids, but I don't remember how Mom would prepare it.

    I enjoyed reading your post on this squash and I found one at a local vegetable market this week--hadn't seen a googootz in years! Brought back some memories.
    Lee Ann H
    Crochet...Gotta Love It! Blog
    Crochet...Gotta Love It! Website (crochet names and rosary patterns)


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