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005  Ecballium elaterium (L.) Rich

Cucurbitaceae

Nome comune: Cocomero asinino; Schizzetti ; Sputaveleno

Ecballium elaterium, also called the squirting cucumber or exploding cucumber, is a plant in the cucumber family. It gets its unusual name from the fact that, when ripe, it squirts a stream of mucilaginous liquid containing its seeds, which can be seen with the naked eye. It is thus considered to have rapid plant movement. It is native to Europe, northern Africa, and temperate areas of Asia. It is grown as an ornamental plant elsewhere, and in some places it has naturalized. It is suspected to provide food for the caterpillars of the tortrix moth Phtheochroa rugosana. This plant, and especially its fruit, is poisonous. In the ancient world it saw use as an abortifacient. In Turkey, the fresh fruit juice of this plant is directly applied into the nostrils for the treatment of sinusitis as a herbal / folk remedy. Clinical tests on voluntary patients revealed that the healing rate of double-high dosage application is higher than that of the single-low dosage (71.0 and 56.6%, respectively). In addition, total relief from the main symptoms is observed in 20% of the patients, although the sinuses are not completely drained off on x-ray examination.