What is Elaterium?

Ecballium elaterium is a decumbent, perennial herb native to the Mediterranean, north Africa and western Asia. It belongs to Cucurbitaceae family and has a proliferative rooting system so that root expansion is essential for this plant. Elaterium is a drug consisting of a sediment deposited by the juice of the fruit of Ecballium Elaterium. It is met with in commerce in light, thin, friable, flat or slightly incurved opaque cakes, of a greyish-green colour, bitter taste and tea-like smell. Elaterin, a white crystalline substance found in elaterium and used as a purgative, forms colourless scales which have a bitter taste, but it is highly inadvisable to taste either this substance or elaterium.