squirting cucumber(redirected from Ecballium elaterium)
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squirting cucumber:see gourdgourd
, common name for some members of the Cucurbitaceae, a family of plants whose range includes all tropical and subtropical areas and extends into the temperate zones.
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(Ecballium elaterium), a perennial herbaceous plant of the family Cucurbitaceae. Its stems are extended or ascending, and are stiff and rough. The leaves are cordate, with gray, feltlike undersides. The flowers are pale yellow and diclinous; the male flowers are in racemes, and the female are single. The plants are predominantly monoecious. The elongated fruits are bristly, about the size of a plum. Squirting cucumber grows mainly along the coast of the mediterranean and the Black sea, in dry open places. In the USSR it is found in the southern European part, the Caucasus, and, more rarely, in Middle Asia, usually in sands and weedy spots. In the ripe stage, the fruits break off the fruit stalk at the lightest touch; during this process a bitter liquid and seeds are forcefully ejected from the opening which forms at the spot of the detached pedicel. This process facilitates seed dispersal.