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Family: CUCURBITACEAE 

 Ecballium elaterium
 
 

Photo by Don Martinson

  
Author:  Achille Richard 1824
Family:  Cucurbitaceae
Habitat:  Mediterranean, Macronesia
Soil:  Rich Mix
Water:  Medium
Sun:  Maximum
Thickness:  8 centimetres
Height:  80 centimetres
Flower:  Yellow
Reproduction:  Seeds
Pop names:  Squirting Cucumber, Touch-Me-Not, Exploding cucumber, Springgurke, Spritzgurke, Jumping cucumber, Spraying cucumber, Wild Balsam-apple
Synonyms:  Elaterium cordifolium, Momordica elaterium

 
A young caudex by Bernard Gacongne

 
The leave by Bernard Gacongne


The female flower by Bernard Gacongne

   This member of the Cucurbitaceae family was described by Achille Richard in 1824. It is found in most of the Mediterranean and Macronesia, growing in rich but drained soil with some water and lots of sun. The swollen rootstock can grow to eight centimetres, the vines will grow to 80 centimetres, and the flowers are dark yellow. The plant can only be reproduced by seeds.

The spraying cucumber developed a unique strategy for the spreading of its seeds: While the fruit ripens, pressure develops inside, and one side of the fruit grow more than the other. When the fruit separates from the stalk, being touched by an animal, the sticky seeds squirt out, adhering to the animals skin and falling of from it some days later, which is the way this plant disperse its seeds. Hence the name Squirting cucumber.

SubFamily: Cucurbitoideae, Tribe: Benincaseae


The male flower by Bernard Gacongne


The fruits by Bernard Gacongne


The seeds by Bernard Gacongne