Some time back, I put up a post on this blog to show how one can pollinate cucumber flowers. Pumpkin flowers can also be pollinated using the same method as shown below. The big bright yellow flowers of the pumpkin are often produced in abundance, especially the male flowers, when compared to the number of female flowers.
Rather than wasting them by leaving them on the vine, the male flowers can actually be picked, coated in batter and then fried to make tempura (click on this link to know more). The flowers of the zucchini are better known to be eaten this way.
To pick up the male flowers either to eat or for as a source of pollen, one has to first learn how to recognise them. As mentioned earlier, male cucurbit flowers have no baby fruits behind their petals. One simply sees a flower attached right away onto a green flower stalk. One pumpkin vine can have several male flowers opened at once. A few can be picked to pollinate the female flowers flowers and the rest can go into the cooking pot.
The female flower of the pumpkin is not picked and made into tempura. The reason is simple – once the female flower is pollinated, it becomes the pumpkin fruit. You won’t want to eat the flowers, right? Anyway, the female pumpkin flower can be identified via the small baby fruit that is located just behind the petals.
See the picture below for the bud of a female pumpkin flower
To pollinate pumpkin flowers, one can go pick a freshly opened male flower. The next step to take is to strip of all its petals to reveal the pollen laden anthers.
With the stripped male flower on hand, now it is time to go hunt for an opened female flower. Once a female flower is found, brush the pollen laden anthers against the stigma of the female flower. In the process, one will notice some of the pollen being coated onto the stigma.
After a day, the female pumpkin flower will fade away but at that stage, its hard to tell whether it will turn into a fruit.
If pollination is successful, the baby fruit behind will slowly swell up, embarking a journey to become a pumpkin fruit in a month of so, depending on the variety.