Why are Pumpkins Orange?

Pumpkins Carved

Have you ever wondered why pumpkins are orange?

Pumpkins contain a pigment called “Carotenoids”. Carotenoids give a ripe pumpkin that classical orange color. These carotenoids are present in young, green pumpkins. As the fruit ripens, the green color caused by chlorophyll, gives way to the orange colored carotenoid pigment.

In a similar way, leaves on trees turn into brilliant colors of red, yellow, gold and crimson in Autumn.  

What causes a pumpkin to ripen and turn orange?

During the growth stage, pumpkins are green. This is due to the presence of green colored Chlorophyll, which is needed for plant photosynthesis. 

Nature sends a signal to green pumpkins to ripen. As a result, the plants produce less and less green chlorophyll This allows the orange color of the carotenoids to emerge as the pumpkin ripens.

Nature’s signal to the plant to allow the pumpkin to ripen, is due to three factors:

  1. Daylight gives way to longer nights.

  2. Warm sunny days and cool (not cold) nights is the second trigger.

  3. Increased moisture in the soil. Dry summers can delay ripening.

  4. Plant stress caused by insects or disease.

 Note: Hot summers with direct exposure to the sun, can cause premature ripening.

Did You Know? Not all pumpkins are orange. They can be white, red, yellow, red, tan, and even blue!. Find out about Pumpkin Colors

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