Factoid

Thomas G. Lammers lammers at FMPPR.FMNH.ORG
Fri Jan 23 06:45:35 CST 1998


At 05:40 PM 01-22-98 -0700, Mary Barkworth wrote:
>A book about plants for children* comments that "the Squirting Cucumber
>fills up with water and squirts its seeds out.  They travel at about 60
>miles an hour".  Which species is it?  Does anyone know a seed source?  No,
>I am not planning to check the data, just aim the fruit.  And yes, if
>someone knows of a faster seed, I would like to hear of it.

Ecballium elaterium (L. ) A. Rich.  (Cucurbitaceae).  Seeds mixed with a
watery fluid are squirted from the hole left when the ripe fruit drops from
the pedicel; squirting is caused by contraction of the pericarp.  Fruit is
the source of a purgative called elaterium.  (Willis' A. Dictionary of
Flowering Plants and Ferns, ed. 8 by H. K. Airy Shaw, 1973).  Not sure who
the botanist with the timing gun was.


Thomas G. Lammers
  =20
Classification, Nomenclature, Phylogeny and Biogeography
of the Campanulaceae, s. lat.
                                   =20
Department of Botany                            =20
Field Museum of Natural History =09
Roosevelt Road at Lake Shore Drive      =20
Chicago, Illinois 60605-2496 USA

e-mail:    tlammers at fmnh.org
voice mail: 312-922-9410 ext. 317
fax:                312-427-2530

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