The world’s largest pumpkin is ridiculously large… But is far from its biological limit

Pumpkins keep getting bigger thanks to time spent in cell division, specialised tissue, and selective breeding.

Prize-winning pumpkins just keep getting bigger, thanks to careful seed selection, plenty of growing space and gallons of water. The current record belongs to a gargantuan 1,226kg (2,702lb) pumpkin grown by Italy’s Stefano Cutrupi. Some varieties of pumpkin, such as the Atlantic Giant, are genetically predisposed to grow to spectacular sizes. 

Pumpkins grow rapidly during a cell division phase that lasts far longer than in their gourd relatives such as cucumbers. After division, the cells expand for up to two months, giving larger cells than in other fruits. 

Pumpkins are also gifted higher levels of specialised tissue called phloem, which transports sugars to where it’s needed for growth. The one thing that prize growers haven’t been able to overcome so far is a flat base when the pumpkin becomes too heavy to hold its shape. 

Asked by: Jonny Malone, Ohio

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