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Ecballium elaterium - (L.)A.Rich.                
                 
Common Name Squirting Cucumber
Family Cucurbitaceae
Synonyms
Known Hazards Poisonous in large quantities[7] (this probably refers to the fruit). The juice of the fruit is irritative to some skins[148].
Habitats Hot dry places on waste ground and roadsides[45, 86], usually close to the coast[7].
Range Europe - Mediterranean. Naturalized in Britain at a few locations along the south coast[17].
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Half Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun

Summary       

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Ecballium elaterium is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in).
It is hardy to zone 9 and 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.


USDA hardiness zone : Coming soon


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.

Ecballium elaterium Squirting Cucumber


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gc3_ecballium_elaterium.jpg
Ecballium elaterium Squirting Cucumber
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Carstor
   
Habitats       
 Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses                                         
None known
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Abortifacient;  Analgesic;  Antirheumatic;  Cardiac;  Kidney;  Purgative.

The squirting cucumber 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[238, 268]. The juice of the fruit is antirheumatic, cardiac and purgative[1, 7, 61, 86, 89]. The plant is a very powerful purgative that causes evacuation of water from the bowels[238]. It is used internally in the treatment of oedema associated with kidney complaints, heart problems, rheumatism, paralysis and shingles[86, 238]. Externally, it has been used to treat sinusitis and painful joints[238]. It should be used with great caution and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner[4, 238]. Excessive doses have caused gastro-enteritis and even death[7]. It should not be used by pregnant women since it can cause an abortion[7]. 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[46, 238]. The root contains an analgesic principle[240].
Other Uses
None known
Cultivation details                                         
Prefers a moist well-drained soil in a sunny position[86, 200]. Grows best in a rich soil[1]. Another report says that it succeeds in poor soils[238]. The foliage is fairly frost-tender, though the roots are much hardier and plants can survive quite cold winters in Britain[86]. They are more likely to be killed by excessive winter wet[86]. The squirting cucumber is sometimes cultivated for its use as a medicinal plant[46]. 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[K] and can become a weed in warmer climates than Britain[K]. It is subject to statutory control as a weed in Australia[238].
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
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[175]. Grow the plants on fast and plant them out after the last expected frosts.
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
(L.)A.Rich.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
46200
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[4]Grieve. A Modern Herbal.
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
[7]Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
[45]Polunin. O. Flowers of Greece and the Balkans.
A good pocket flora, it also lists quite a few plant uses.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[61]Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
[86]Organ. J. Gourds.
Deals with squashes and their relatives. Interesting and readable, it gives cultivation techniques and some details of plant uses.
[89]Polunin. O. and Huxley. A. Flowers of the Mediterranean.
A very readable pocket flora that is well illustrated. Gives some information on plant uses.
[175]Bird. R. (Editor) Focus on Plants. Volume 5. (formerly 'Growing from seed')
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation. A good article on Corydalis spp.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[238]Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
[240]Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
[268]Stuart. M. (Editor) The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism
Excellent herbal with good concise information on over 400 herbs.

Readers comment                                         
 
Elizabeth H.
Thu Dec 30 07:19:47 2004
This plant is found in Malta/Mediterranean basin/Europe

More comprehensive details, medicinal properties, uses, botanical data, plant description and photogallery of high resolutions photos of this plant can be seen on an interesting website about the wild plants of Malta: www.maltawildplants.com

Link: Malta Wild Plants Website and photography by Stephen Mifsud, Malta

Sofia S.
Dec 1 2010 12:00AM
Juice of the fruit has been used as cure for Hepatitis. The fruit is squeezed in a clean cloth, and a drop of the juice inhaled through each nostril, twice to three times a day. The resulting EXCESSIVE amounts of yellow mucus discharge is normal and expected and jaundice subsides within 3-4 days and liver function restored. This is a very old treatment people have used in Southern Mediterranean. It is important NOT to exceed the amount of the juice used, as it is toxic in high doses.
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Subject : Ecballium elaterium  
             

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