Squirting Cucumber

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gourd (gôrd, go͝ord), 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. Almost all members of the family are annual herbs that grow as climbing or prostrate vines with spirally coiled tendrils. The characteristic large and fleshy fruit of many genera is often called a pepo; several genera have dry fruits, some with a single seed. The family is known for its many edible and otherwise useful plants. The name gourd is applied to those whose fruits have hard, durable shells used for ornament and as utensils, e.g., drinking cups, dippers, and bowls. The Old World genus Lagenaria includes the calabash, dipper, and bottle gourds. Luffa cylindrica is the loofah, dishcloth gourd, or vegetable sponge; when the edible fruit—called California okra in the S United States—is bleached dry, the inner fibrous network is used as a filter or a scrubbing sponge. Among the many other gourds are the serpent, or snake, gourd (Trichosanthes anguina) of Indomalaysia, whose slender fruit reaches 6 ft (1.8 m) in length. Many of the edible members of the family have been cultivated for so long—often since prehistoric times—that a single species may include several quite different varieties. Cucurbita includes the pumpkin, the vegetable marrow, and the summer squashes (all varieties of C. pepo); the winter squashes (varieties of C. maxima); and the crooknecks and the cheese pumpkin (varieties of C. moschata). Cucumis (see melon) includes the cucumbers (C. sativus) and the gherkins (C. anguria); C. melo includes all melons except the watermelon, which, together with the citron, or preserving, melon, is Citrullis vulgaris. Of the few members of the family indigenous to the United States, the colocynth, or bitter-apple (Citrullis colocynthis), yields a powerful laxative from the dried pulp, and the wild balsam apple, or prickly cucumber (Echinocystis lobata), characteristically explodes when ripe, shooting out its seeds—as does the Mediterranean squirting cucumber (Ecballium elaterium). Bryony (two species of Bryonia), cultivated in Central Europe as a cover vine, has long been valued locally for the medicinal properties of its roots. The African genus Dendrosicyos is a unique member of the family in that it grows as a small, bushy tree. Gourds are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Violales, family Cucurbitaceae.


See L. H. Bailey, The Garden of Gourds (1937); U.S. Dept. of Agriculture publications on melons and squash.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Squirting Cucumber


(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.


Atlas lekarstvennykh rastenii SSSR. Moscow, 1962.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
(Heteroptera: Pentatomidae) as a biocontrol agent for Squirting cucumber, Ecballium elaterium (L.) A.
These results are in agreement with those of Attard and Scicluna-Spiteri, (2001), who demonstrated that MS media containing 5 mg/l NAA produced cucurbitacin-E content of 2.970% in undifferentiated callus cultures of Ecballium elaterium. Additionally, Nikolaeva et al, (2009) reported that the presence of NAA in the nutrient medium elevated the biosynthetic ability of callus cultures of tea plant (Camellia sinensis L.) and especially stimulated the accumulation of total soluble phenolics.
1H and 13C NMR signal assignment of cucurbitacin derivatives from Citrullus colocynthis (L.) Schrader and Ecballium elaterium L.
1986) to separate the environmental and genetic components of phenotypic variation in breeding system in the monoecious and dioecious sub-species of Ecballium elaterium across a range of environments.
Three sites were chosen for the experimental plots, representative of the ecological extremes of the distributions of the two subspecies of Ecballium elaterium in Spain.
Since flowers of Ecballium elaterium are unisexual, I examined male and female flower production separately.
One of the goals of this study was to document the extent to which the evolutionary divergence of the two [TABULAR DATA FOR TABLE 5 OMITTED] subspecies of Ecballium elaterium has affected the life histories and reproductive biologies of these taxa.
Natural populations of Ecballium elaterium are usually small ([less than]100 individuals) and quite isolated from one another, further restricting the possibility of multiple invasions.
Monoecious Ecballium elaterium is more widespread than the dioecious subspecies, and by far the most commonly found subspecies on islands, throughout the Mediterranean, in the Canary Islands, and in the Azores.
The ecology of breeding-system variation in Ecballium elaterium (L.) A.
The ecology of the monoecious and dioecious subspecies of Ecballium elaterium (L.) A.
Sur la genetique de la monoecie et la dioecie zygotique chez Ecballium elaterium Rich.