The Squirting Plant

One of the great beauties of nature lies in the variety of reproduction mechanisms with which plants are equipped through evolution.  It is how some plants get to thrive whilst others pick an evolutionary dead end and disappear.

Of all the wild plants in Malta, perhaps the most interesting mechanism is that which the squirting cucumber (faqqus il-hmir) has acquired.  This plant produces an ovoid fruit that ripens slowly until it reaches maturity at which point it shoots out the seeds that it holds upon the merest touch.  It is an ingenious way of ensuring that those seeds fall in an area that is fertile but not close enough that they end competing with each other.

Apart from this fascinating method of reproduction the squirting cucumber is also noteworthy because of the bright yellow flowers that it produces and its dark green foliage.  This, however, isn’t a plant built to delight the eye but, rather, to survive and multiply.

Botanical Name: Echallium Elaterium
Common name: Squirting Cucumber (English) Faqqus il-Hmir (Maltese)
Family:  Cucurbitaceae (Cucurbit family, Gourd family)


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