Botanical Name : Ecballium elaterium
Species: Ecballium elaterium
Subspecies: E. e. subsp. elaterium – E. e. subsp. dioicum
Synonyms: Momordica elateria
Common Name : Squirting Cucumber
Habitat :Ecballium elaterium is native to Europe – Mediterranean. Naturalized in Britain at a few locations along the south coast. It grows on hot dry places on waste ground and roadsides, usually close to the coast.
Ecballium elaterium is a perennial plant, growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in).
It is frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to August, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile….CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.
Prefers a moist well-drained soil in a sunny position. Grows best in a rich soil. Another report says that it succeeds in poor soils. The foliage is fairly frost-tender, though the roots are much hardier and plants can survive quite cold winters in Britain. They are more likely to be killed by excessive winter wet. The squirting cucumber is sometimes cultivated for its use as a medicinal plant. The ripening fruit becomes pumped full of liquid, leading to an increase in pressure. As the seed becomes ripe, this pressure forces the fruit to break away explosively from the plant, ejecting its seed to a considerable distance in the opposite direction. The plant occasionally self-sows in our Cornwall trial ground and can become a weed in warmer climates than Britain. It is subject to statutory control as a weed in Australia.
Seed – sow early spring in rich compost in a greenhouse. Place 2 – 3 seeds per pot and thin to the strongest plant. The seed usually germinates in 10 – 21 days at 25°c. Grow the plants on fast and plant them out after the last expected frosts.
Ecballium elaterium has been used as a medicinal plant for over 2,000 years, though it has a very violent effect upon the body and has little use in modern herbalism. The juice of the fruit is antirheumatic, cardiac and purgative. The plant is a very powerful purgative that causes evacuation of water from the bowels. It is used internally in the treatment of oedema associated with kidney complaints, heart problems, rheumatism, paralysis and shingles. Externally, it has been used to treat sinusitis and painful joints. It should be used with great caution and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. Excessive doses have caused gastro-enteritis and even death. It should not be used by pregnant women since it can cause an abortion. The fully grown but unripe fruits are harvested during the summer, they are left in containers until the contents are expelled and the juice is then dried for later use. The root contains an analgesic principle.
Known Hazards : Poisonous in large quantities (this probably refers to the fruit). The juice of the fruit is irritative to some skins
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.