Meet Cucumber’s Mischievous Cousin, The Squirting Cucumber


There is possibly no one who doesn’t like cucumbers. They are your salad staple, your toast staple, even your stuffing staple. Cucumbers are loved by everyone around the world, and for all the right reasons. But what if we told you these staples had a Mediterranean-only cousin? A belligerent, antagonistic cousin with a highly inappropriate name? Lovers of cucumbers, let us introduce you to the fruit’s evil cousin – the squirting cucumber!

Meet Cucumber's Mischievous Cousin, The Squirting Cucumber
via Wikimedia Commons/Krzysztof Ziarnek, Kenraiz

Endemic to the Mediterranean region, the fruit, and the entire plant, is considered a weed in Israel, Jordan, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Morocco. But why? 

You see, the plant is specifically known for its exploding, or squirting fruits. The squirting cucumbers are small, about 4-6cm. When they grow up and detach from the thick, hairy stem, they squirt! By which we mean they let out an explanation of the 20-60 seeds that they have inside them. Because of this explosion, the seeds can travel up to 6 meters and start growing into new plants. This is practically how the squirting cucumber has colonized the Mediterranean region!

The plant is known to Science as Ecballium elaterium. It was, for around 2,000 and some years, used its medicinal properties – to treat kidney problems, cardiac problems and more – but it has now been found out that ingesting the plant or its fruit that actually be fatal, because it’s poisonous in nature.

If you do get to visit one of the places where it grows, you will be able to see the plant up close. Its beautiful, bell-shaped yellow flowers do not prepare you for the explosion that is to follow. Don’t stand too close to these little devils, though. When the fruit ripens and squirts, it lets out a stream of mucilaginous liquid along with its seeds. So, well, it can be gross. 

çHowever, to witness with your own eyes how the squirting cucumber ‘lashes out’ is the sight of a lifetime. 

You’ll also like Yemen’s Dragon Blood Tree.


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