One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A Mediterranean plant of the gourd family, bearing a small cucumber-like fruit which falls readily when ripe and forcibly expels an irritant pulp containing its seeds.
Ecballium elaterium, family Cucurbitaceae
- ‘The squirting cucumber bursts open and shoot its seeds up to 27 feet away from the parent plant.’
- ‘The squirting cucumber can be found on sandy and stony ground, stone walls, grassy places, waste and fallow land.’
- ‘In certain cases, as with impatiens, squirting cucumbers, and trigger plants, the fruits explode on contact, an adaptation that favors the dispersal of seeds over their protection.’
- ‘When the green, inflated, spiny fruits of the squirting cucumber are ripe, they eject their seeds under hydrostatic pressure so they are dispersed some distance away from the parent plant.’
- ‘The squirting cucumber is sometimes cultivated for its use as a medicinal plant.’
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