Ecballium elaterium, Squirting cucumber, Exploding cucumber,
Wild Cucumber, Wild Balsam Apple,
Hebrew: ירוקת החמור, Arabic; قثا الحمار

Scientific name:  Ecballium elaterium (L.) A.Richard
Common name:  Squirting cucumber,Exploding cucumber, Wild Cucumber, Wild Balsam Apple
Hebrew name:  ירוקת החמור
Arabic name:  قثا الحمار
Plant Family:  Cucurbitaceae, דלועיים

Flowers of Israel, flora en Israel

Life form:   Hemicryptophyte
Stems:  Prostrate, procumbent, basal branching, hispid
Leaves:  Alternate, entire, dentate or serrate
Flowers:  Pale yellow, trumpet shape, 5 petals, males in a raceme and females solitary
Fruits / pods:  Berry, oblong-cylindrical, green, green-yellow when ripe; seeds 25-50, ovoid, brown
Flowering Period:   April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December
Habitat:  Heavy soils
Distribution:  Mediterranean Woodlands and Shrublands, Semi-steppe shrublands
Chorotype:  Med - Irano-Turanian
Summer shedding:  Perenating

Ecballium elaterium, Squirting cucumber,Exploding cucumber, Wild Cucumber, Wild Balsam Apple, قثا الحمار,ירוקת החמור


Derivation of the botanical name:
Ecballium, Greek ekballein, to cast out, referring to the forceful ejection of the seeds when the fruit is ripe (Greek)
elaterium, Greek elatos (to drive, strike), referring to the way in which the seeds are thrown out.referring to the forceful expulsion of seeds from this plant; also the extract is a violent purgative
  • The standard author abbreviation L. is used to indicate Carl Linnaeus (1707 – 1778), a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, the father of modern taxonomy.
  • The standard author abbreviation A.Richard is used to indicate Achille Richard (1794 – 1852), a French botanist and physician.
Ecballium elaterium has been used medicinally since Classical times.
Theophrastus (370 — about 285 BCE), Enquiry into plants, book IX.9.4: "Of wild cucumber the root is used for white leprosy and for mange in sheep, while the extracted juice makes the drug called 'the driver.' It is collected in autumn, for then is the best".
Elaterium (a cathartic) is the feculence of the juice of the fruit of Ecballium Elaterium (Linné).