Friday, 22 July 2011

Squirting Cucumber and a colourful ladybug

Read in Swedish: Sprutgurka och färggrann nyckelpiga!

Check out this beautiful insect which seems to be a kind of ladybug. "Look here!" my son Alex said, and pointed at a really small green insect. Later when I  was looking at the pictures on the computer I noticed the beautiful colours! It was so tiny and I should have needed my glasses to see it clearly like this...

Maybe you wonder what kind of plant the ladybug is sitting on? It's a Squirting Cucumber or Ecballium Elaterium in Latin. "Πικραγγουριά" (Pikrangoriá) in Greek.

The pictures above are taken now and the ones below in November.

This is a creeping herb which grows throughout the Mediterranean, for example by the roadside. At all these pictures the fruit is unripe. It ripens during the summer and then the fruit becomes yellow, and listen now!:

When it's yellow and ripe it explodes at the slightest touch and squirts poisonous juice and seeds in a beam of up to 3 meters!

So WARNING - very irritating to the skin, and what happens if you get this in your eyes...?!?

It's good that the thorny fruit and the hairy leaves are quite scary...

The plant has been used a lot in the folk medicine since the Ancient Greece, even though people were aware of that a overdose could lead to death...! Ugh, how nasty!

Πικραγγουριά (more information in Greek)

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