13 Varieties of Black Pumpkins For Dec and Cooking

Looking for a way to add mystery and intrigue to your vegetable patch? Or maybe you just want to up your Halloween decorating game? Black pumpkins can satisfy both of these with a plethora of options to choose from. 

Are these real pumpkins? Yes! More specifically, they’re Cucurbita winter squash. Some of the black pumpkin varieties you’ll see below are heirloom species, while others are fun, modern hybrids.

They’re all perfectly edible, too! Each with its own unique texture, and flavour profile, and is full of seeds that can be re-sown or roasted as tasty snacks.

Types of Black Pumpkins

Several factors contribute towards some pumpkins having a black rind, including genetics, environmental conditions, and disease. Varieties, such as Black Futsu, naturally have a dark green or black rind when they mature. However, environmental factors like excessive heat, sunscald, or damage from pests or disease can also cause the rind to turn black.

As autumn daylight wanes, so too does the green chlorophyll production in many pumpkin varieties. This is when we see them mature and ripen turning red, yellow or orange, as the pigmented carotenoids are revealed. However, some varieties continue producing chlorophyll in large amounts, resulting in these exciting and intriguing black pumpkins. 

Vining Plants

Pumpkins come in determinate and indeterminate versions. Determinate vines are shorter and grow well on trellises. Indeterminates get very long and continue to grow until harvest.

Mini Pumpkins

Some also come in miniature forms. These are commonly used for autumn decoration. But, are also popular cooking ingredients. 

Harvest Times

Black pumpkins are ready for harvest between 50-120 days from seed germination, and depending on the variety are usually 10 lbs or less.

Varieties of Black Pumpkins

Most dark-rind pumpkins originated on the Japanese island of Miyazaki. Others come to us from Australia and Thailand.

Some of these are easy choices for carving. While others have softer rinds and are better for soups, stews and baked goods.

A successful harvest requires at least 4 months of bright sunshine and warm weather. If you live in a region with a short growing season, the University of Saskatchewan, a leading innovator in the development of cold-hardy crops, suggest starting seeds indoors. Especially those that have a 100-day maturity time, or more.

Black Futsu

1. Black Futsu

If a Halloween pumpkin and a blueberry had a baby, it would be this wonderful, heirloom species that seems to magically change colour several times before reaching maturity. 

Developing through green, black, grey, orange and even pink, the indeterminate Black Futsu emerges perfectly smooth and round before taking on deep surface ribs and a puckered rind.

Full sun will stimulate robust growth and flowering, as well as well-draining, nutrient-rich soil. This early-ripening, winter pumpkin smells and tastes like cantaloupe and will be ready for harvest in 100-120 days.

queensland blue

2. Queensland Blue

Silvery-blue undertones shine through a solid black rind on this Australian heirloom pumpkin that can potentially reach 10-20 lbs, at maturity.

These indeterminates need a large growing space to ramble or sufficient trellising in smaller areas. Fertile soil with a 6.0-9.8 pH will ensure healthy absorption of moisture and nutrients when coupled with full-sun exposure.

With the help of pollinators, your Queensland pumpkins will be large and ready for harvest in 110-120 days. Their classic, summer squash flavour will complement savoury and sweet dishes, alike.

Black Kat pumpkin

3. Black Kat pumpkin

This popular determinate variety matures to just 12” wide by 6” high. When it catches the light, warm, autumn undertones are revealed and unlike other types, it even has a black stem.

The Black Kat’s perfect, pumpkin shape is achieved in full sun and with plenty of phosphorus and potassium, once the buds set. Regular watering will aid in nutrient absorption and healthy foliage. 

In just 77 days, you’ll have beautiful pumpkins for your holiday decor or add their sweet ‘bubblegum’ flavour to pies and other treats.

Kabocha pumpkin

4. Kabocha pumpkin

The Japanese Kabocha is a determinate, heirloom variety that matures to a mini 3-5lbs in 85 days. Black-green and orange hues spread across the outer rind concealing deliciously sweet flesh, inside.

Short vines grow well on trellises in full sun, provided the heavy fruit is supported by netting that fits loosely around each round pumpkin. 

Soil should be well-draining with a pH between 6.0 and 6.8 to support optimal moisture and nutrient absorption. Consistent plant care and local pollinators will help encourage a larger yield.

Dark Knight pumpkin

5. Dark Knight pumpkin

Aptly named, the Dark Knight has one of the darkest rinds of all medium-sized pumpkin varieties. In ideal conditions, these can easily reach 10 lbs each, at maturity.

As a cultivated, determinate hybrid, this black pumpkin type is also resistant to deer and powdery mildew, which is common with heirloom varieties.

If you’re growing the Dark Knight for decorations, you have the flexibility of picking them early for a solid black colour or allowing them to fully mature to a bright orange in roughly 100 days.

Tetsukabuto squash

6. Tetsukabuto squash

This Japanese, determinate type is a cross between a kabocha and butternut squash, which has produced resistance to root borers and powdery mildew. 

Its textured rind shines black, green and orange as it matures to 3-5 lbs and its sweet, nutty interior has become a favourite in autumnal cuisine.

These beautiful fruits are ready for harvest in just 55 days when offered full sun, consistent watering and vital nutrients. 

Unfortunately, bottom rot is common with pumpkins. Luckily, Tetsukabuto squash has short vines that are easily trellised.

Yokohama squash

7. Yokohama squash

The hauntingly sculptural Yokohama squash is an indeterminate, heirloom variety that is naturally resistant to root borers.

Reaching a mature 6lbs, this unusual pumpkin initially develops with a near-black rind. When left on the vine for a full 100 days, in full sun, concentrated chlorophyll cells begin to fade. Allowing carotene pigments to rise to the surface, slowly turning the rind a rich orange.

Inside, a small seed pocket allows for more smooth-textured flesh that offers a floral bouquet and flavour with notes of spice, sapote and mango.

Buttercup squash

8. Buttercup squash

Seeds for this reliable and easy-to-grow heirloom squash were first introduced 100 years ago and have been successfully producing sweet fruit with a deep, green-black rind ever since.

Vines stretch 4-6 ft long, making these an easy choice for potted trellises. This setup also protects from bottom rot and pests when planted in full sun and provided a steady stream of water and nutrients.

A sturdier fruit means a longer maturity time (115 days). But, their unique, creamy texture and appearance are well worth the wait.

Cha Cha squash

9. Cha Cha squash

This delightful winter variety is another offshoot of the original Kabocha pumpkin that matures to roughly 4-5lbs, producing 3-4 fruits per compact plant. 

A tough, outer rind flows between black, blue-green and dark green during its 55-day trek toward harvest, while developing a dense, sweet interior.

As with all indeterminate squash varieties, fabric row covers can help protect your plants during the seedling stage. But, a robust yield requires sufficient pollination by local bees, ladybugs and butterflies. So, these should be removed once the buds are set.

Thai Kang Kob pumpkin

10. Thai Kang Kob pumpkin

Originating in Thailand, these magical pumpkins develop a thick, black-green exterior with deep ribs and can range in size from 4-8 lbs, depending on environmental conditions.

Once harvested, green chlorophyll cells die away, revealing mermaid hues of pink, peach, turquoise and seafoam green.

The interior texture is so sweet and creamy, you’ll be enjoying pies and tarts without having to add extra sugar or dairy!

To support enhanced flavour and fruit size, full-sun positioning and a steady stream of nutrients and water are a must.

Miniwarts pumpkin

11. Miniwarts pumpkin

When it comes to black pumpkins, sometimes the allure is in the details. Miniwarts pumpkins display heavily textured black nodes on a bright, orange shell. 

These plants are prolific bloomers and produce a high yield when positioned in full sun and fertilized regularly with a low-nitrogen NPK.

Typically used for fall decorating, these are edible. The mildly sweet interior and seeds can be used in savoury dishes as well as roasted for snacks.

Mini pumpkins start appearing as soon as late summer and are fully mature after 110 days.

Total Eclipse squash

12. Total Eclipse squash

These lovely pattypan squash look like a star-filled sky on a clear, crisp, autumn night. They can get as big as 7-8” in diameter, which is great for use in holiday decorating. They are a deep green/black which darkens as they mature.

When harvested at just 3-4” wide, these are tender and delicious tossed in butter, salt and pepper. However, if left on the vine for longer and allowed to get bigger, they tend to take on a woody texture. 

Like the Miniwarts, these plants are big producers when provided with ample water, sunlight and nutrients and are ready to go in just 45 days!

Colorado Sunrise pumpkin

13. Colorado Sunrise pumpkin

The grand finale on my list of black pumpkin varieties is one of the prettiest, especially after harvest. New fruit emerges with an interesting grey colour. But, don’t think they’ve gone bad. Soon, their colour will deepen to a green-black. 

Once harvested, chlorophyll cells fade, changing these pumpkins from black to dark blue, then red-orange and finally a pale peach, just like a majestic sunrise!

This is a hybrid, indeterminate variety that can potentially reach between 8-12 lbs in 90-100 days.

Black Pumpkin Plant Care

In order for all these amazing black pumpkin varieties to meet their full potential, the right combination of sunlight, water, nutrients and positioning must be met. 

If possible, plant them in a spot where other melons or squash have not previously been planted. This will ensure that your black pumpkins are getting the maximum benefit from the soil. 

Prior to sowing or transplanting, test your soil pH using a simple strip test. It should be between 6.0 and 8.0. If not, work in some elemental sulfur to lower it or agricultural lime to raise it. 

Ideally, this should be done several weeks before planting to allow for soil microorganisms to process and distribute these elements. Meanwhile, you can improve soil aeration and drainage by incorporating some well-rotted compost and also sand.

Pumpkins and squash can send roots down 4ft or more, making loose soil critical to healthy root formation. Consistent watering is vital to these thirsty plants. One inch or more (depending on ambient temperatures) per week will support healthy plant hydration and circulation of critical nutrients.

Young plants require more nitrogen so opt for a squash fertilizer with an N-P-K of 10-5-5. This will help to ensure robust root growth and establishment as well as vigorous foliage growth for photosynthesis. 

Once buds are set, more phosphorus and potassium are needed to fuel fruit development, size and yield. This is when you should switch to a 5-10-10 NPK. 

When selecting your fertilizer, choose a feed that includes essential, secondary nutrients including Magnesium (Mg), Boron (B) and Zinc (Zn). This will help to boost the effectiveness of each of the primary macronutrients.

For more information on growing pumpkins, here’s a link to my article about Pumpkin Companion Plants.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are black pumpkins natural?

Yes! Black pumpkins are special types of Cucurbita winter squash that have high concentrations of green chlorophyll cells in their outer rind. Some are so concentrated that they appear black to the human eye. While others take on different shades of black and gray, before fading to various other colours including orange.

Are black pumpkins edible?

Yes, these are perfectly edible and have amazing flavours and textures. From creamy and sweet to savoury, with hints of spice and melon.

Citations

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Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.