The zucchini or courgette (Cucurbita pepo) is a summer squash, of Mesoamerican origin, which can reach nearly 1 metre (40 inches) in length, but is usually harvested when still immature at about 15 to 25 cm (6 to 10 in). A zucchini is a thin-skinned cultivar of what in Britain and Ireland is referred to as a marrow. In South Africa, zucchini is known as baby marrow.
Along with certain other squashes and pumpkins, the zucchini belongs to the species Cucurbita pepo. It can be dark or light green. A related hybrid, the golden zucchini, is a deep yellow or orange color.In a culinary context, the zucchini is treated as a vegetable; it is usually cooked and presented as a savory dish or accompaniment. Botanically, zucchinis are fruits, a type of botanical berry called a “pepo”, being the swollen ovary of the zucchini flower.
The zucchini, like all squash, originates in the Americas, specifically Mesoamerica. Its original name in Mexican language or Nahuatl is ayokonetl, also with the variants ayo or ayocotzin (plural, ayococone). After this, the concept and use of zucchini was developed in northern Italy in the second half of the 19th century, long after the introduction of cucurbits from the Americas in the early 16th century.
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