The Scandalous Side of Botany.

Parental Guidance Suggested.

I love our Botany book. I struggle with finding history and science books that I like, but this one – it’s just perfect. The organization of the chapters is clear and succinct, the writing is beautiful, and the experiments are easy enough that even this severely un-experimenty mom can make them happen.

I love it so much that we’re in week 9 of school and I haven’t abandoned reading it aloud.

(Reading aloud is hard work. And also requires a modicum of non-laziness and non-boredom. By now I’ve usually jettisoned a subject or two for Ali to read to herself because I just can’t take it anymore. But not this year!)

Last week, we were on the porch enjoying our brand new fall weather, and I was reading aloud to my children. There was an Alabama Power crew lounging in the corner of our yard, taking their lunch break from messing with the power pole next to our driveway.

I wasn’t sure if the crew was in earshot or not, but I didn’t really care. They could join us for our educational pursuits if they liked.

So we started with Botany. We were studying the seed chapter, and were learning about the five methods of seed dispersal.

(Human, animal, wind, water, and mechanical. Now you can’t say this blog isn’t educational.)

We were reading about the last method, mechanical dispersal – more specifically, the last example of a plant that uses mechanical dispersal.

The power guys were enjoying their sandwiches by the mailbox, and the kids were intently listening. Ali was taking notes in her workbook as I read the last paragraph in my amplified, sing-songy botany voice.

Another fruit that uses mechanical dispersal is the squirting cucumber.

Um, the what?

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Its small, two-inch cucumbers are filled with slimy juice that contains the seeds.

I glanced over at the power guys, trying to determine if they were listening to the lesson and praying that my read-aloud voice didn’t carry to the mailbox.

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As they ripen, the pressure causes the cucumber to burst off its stalk and explosively shoot slimy liquid up to 20 feet away! The seeds spew out of the liquid, and voila! Seeds are sent to a new plot of land.

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These would be a fun plant to grow. Their scientific name is Ecballium elaterium. If you grow these plants, wait until the cucumber is nice and fat. To make the cucumber squirt, gently shake the vine, but stand back right away so you don’t get slimed!

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By the time I got to this part, I was shocked that I’d been able to read with a straight face.

(I. AM. AMAZING.)

And I was also a tiny bit surprised that one of the Alabama Power guys hadn’t choked on his pickle spear.

I mean sure. The study of botany has had its moments before – talking about seeds and ovaries and whatnot. But this? This was BEYOND. Let’s read it aloud, all together, and just bask in its beauty.

Another fruit that uses mechanical dispersal is the squirting cucumber.

GUYS. I said read it OUT LOUD. I don’t care if you’re at work! Kids in the room? IT’S A TEXTBOOK forcryin’outloud. Let’s start over.

Another fruit that uses mechanical dispersal is the squirting cucumber. Its small, two-inch cucumbers are filled with slimy juice that contains the seeds. As they ripen, the pressure causes the cucumber to burst off its stalk and explosively shoot slimy liquid up to 20 feet away! The seeds spew out of the liquid, and voila! Seeds are sent to a new plot of land. These would be a fun plant to grow. Their scientific name is Ecballium elaterium. If you grow these plants, wait until the cucumber is nice and fat. To make the cucumber squirt, gently shake the vine, but stand back right away so you don’t get slimed!

And THIS is why we homeschool, people. For quality moments like these.

(Additionally, I expect to get an Alabama Power Certificate of Commendation for my efforts in lifting spirits and boosting morale.)


Editor’s Note: I *carefully* searched YouTube for this anomaly. I needed to see it for myself, and it really helped solidify for the children that the squirting cucumber was a plant they should tell EVERYONE about. You’re welcome.
https://youtu.be/NsIojj4PzAo