Zucchini belongs to the gourd family.

Also known as:
Baby marrow

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recognize Zucchini
Zucchini, photo Rasbak - CC BY-SA 3.0

Zucchini (Cucurbitaceae) belongs to the gourd family, as do pumpkin and patisson. Sow in pots (one seed per + half-liter pot) for in the warm windowsill or greenhouse. Likes a nutrient-rich soil; fertilize zucchini liberally with aged cow manure or compost. In late May, the zucchini plant can be put in the open ground. A zucchini plant needs at least one m² to spread its stems and leaves. Protect against night frost with a plastic tunnel or bell jar.

Poisonous zucchini
Anyone who collects seed from courgettes and pumpkins must ensure that there is no cross-pollination between the edible pumpkins and ornamental pumpkins or other members of the gourd family. Seed from such cross-pollination can produce plants that contain the natural toxin cucurbitacin. The outside of the melons and pumpkins shows nothing, but they taste extremely bitter. The cucurbitacins are responsible for this; substances produced by the plant to ward off herbivores. Cucurbitacins are poisonous. In 2015, a 79-year-old German died from eating a poisonous zucchini.


Silver-gray spots with small dark green dots (poop): thrips (Thysanoptera).

Aphids generally do little harm on zucchini plants but are the transmitters of Zucchini Yellow Mosaic Virus (ZYMV).

Feeding on leaf young plants: snails and slugs.

Leaf turns yellow and bumpy; eggs on the underside of the leaf: Glasshouse whitefly (Trialeurodes vaporariorum).

Fungi & diseases

Powdery mildew, photo Rasbak – CC BY-SA 3.0

White spots on leaves; growth retarded: Powdery mildew (Ascomycete strain).

Lower leaves turn yellow, plant wilts because the roots can no longer absorb water: infestation by Black root rot of cucumber (Phomopsis sclerotioides).

Zucchini Yellow Mosaic Virus, photo: Rasbak – CC BY-SA 3.0

Yellow-green, circle-shaped spots on leaves; festooning lines: Zucchini Yellow Mosaic Virus (ZYMV).

Wet, rotten spots at the bottom of the stem: Fusarium foot rot (Fusarium solani).


Hail damage, photo: Christophe Saelens

Brown spots and dents: hail damage.

Mice infesting patisson, photo: Marion Knikman

Mice eat ripe fruit.

Recognize zucchini
Spotted leaf zucchini, photo: Spedona – CC BY-SA 3.0

Some zucchini varieties have mottled leaves, which is characteristic of the species and perfectly normal. ‘Black beauty’ is one such species with spotted leaves.

Zucchini with two colors
Cross-contamination, photo: Stefaan Naafets

Zucchinis are not uniform in color: cross-contamination. Doesn’t happen often, but does happen.

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