Cucumis acutangulus L.
Cucumis lineatus Bosc
Cucumis longus indicus Grew
Cucumis megacarpus G.Don
Cucumis operculatus Roxb. ex Wight & Arn.
Cucurbita acutangula (L.) Blume
Luffa amara Roxb.
Luffa drastic Mart.
Luffa fluminensis Roem.
Luffa foetida Cav.
Luffa forskalii Schweinf. ex Harms
Luffa gosa Ham.
Momordica tubiflora Wall.
Common Name: Angled Loofah
Luffa acutangula is a vigorous annual climbing plant producing long stems that scramble over the ground or climb into nearby vegetation, supporting themselves by means of tendrils.
A popular vegetable in southeast Asia, where the mildly bitter flavour, the slightly spongy texture and sweet juiciness are appreciated. The fruit is also the source of fibres that are commonly used for making skin brushes, dish cleaners etc, though the fruit from the related Luffa aegyptica is generally considered to be superior for these purposes[
]. The plant also has various traditional medicinal uses and is employed as a pesticide. It is often cultivated for these purposes in tropical regions of the world, and is sometimes also grown as an ornamental to provide a fast-growing screen[
Some forms of this plant can be very bitter, and are then somewhat toxic[
Asia - Indian subcontinent. Naturalised throughout the moister Tropics.
|Other Uses Rating||
|Pollinators||Bees, Butterflies, Moths, Insects
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Ornamental, Wild
A plant of the lowland tropics, where it can be grown at elevations up to 500 metres[
]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 32°c, but can tolerate 15 - 38°c[
]. It is intolerant of frost[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,200 - 2,000mm, but tolerates 700 - 3,000mm[
]. In humid areas growth is directed towards the production of leaf biomass, whereas under dry conditions the energy is directed towards abundant flowering and, hence, more abundant fruiting[
]. Too much heavy rainfall during flowering and fruiting leads to fruit rot[
]. In seasonal climates, dry-season planting is more successful than wet-season planting[
Grows best in a sunny position[
]. Plants succeed in poor soils, but fruit best in soils of moderate fertility[
]. Plants are most productive when grown in well-drained soils with a high content of organic matter[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 7, tolerating 4.5 - 7.5[
Plants can produce their first crop of immature fruits for food within 2 months from seed[
When harvesting for food, young, immature fruits weighing from 300 - 400g each are picked 12 - 15 days after fruit set[
The fruits can be picked every 3 days throughout the fruiting season, by hand or with a knife. Individual plants may produce 15 - 20 fruits, with the yield declining after 8 - 13 weeks of harvesting[
]. Total yields for food of 10 - 15 tonnes per hectare are average, with some hybrid forms producing up to 27 tonnes[
For sponge production, the fruits are left for two months on the vines till turning brown[
For seed production, the seeds are shaken out of the completely dry fruits[
There are some named varieties[
Immature fruit - raw or cooked. The flavour varies from very bitter to sweet according to variety[
]. The sweeter fruits can be eaten raw in salads, whilst more bitter forms are used in soups and curries, or are cooked like a vegetable[
]. The mildly bitter flavour, slightly spongy texture and sweet juiciness of the fruits is particularly appreciated in southeast Asia[
]. The fruit is best picked young, when about 10cm long, and used like courgettes[
]. Mature fruits are dry, fibrous, bitter tasting and inedible[
Young shoots, leaves and flower buds - raw or cooked. Eaten in salads or cooked as greens[
]. Used in stir-fries[
Flowers and flower buds are dipped in batter and sautéed[
Seed - roasted, salted and eaten as a snack[
An edible oil is obtained from the seeds[
]. The oil from some forms of the plant can be bitter and toxic[
The seeds are emetic and purgative[
]. They are eaten to expel intestinal worms[
The fruits and seeds are used in herbal preparations for the treatment of venereal diseases, particularly gonorrhoea[
A leaf extract is applied on sores caused by guinea worms to kill the parasite[
]. The leaf sap is applied to skin affections such as eczema, and is used as an eyewash to cure conjunctivitis[
Two trypsin inhibitors and a ribosome inactivating peptide (luffangulin) have been isolated from ridged gourd seeds[
The glycoprotein luffaculin, isolated from the seeds, exhibits abortifacient, antitumour, ribosome inactivating and immunomodulatory activities[
The mature fruit is dried and the fibrous remains used as a skin brush for washing; for domestic purposes, such as washing of cooking utensils; and as filters for local drinks such as palm wine[
]. Industrial use is made of these fibres for making hats[
The sponges are prepared by steeping the mature fruit in running water until the skin and seed contents have been washed away[
The plant, including the seed, is insecticidal[
The trailing stem is used as temporary tying rope for firewood and crops to be carried home[
Seed - pre-soak in cold water overnight to soften the hard seedcoat, and so the seed in situ or in containers[
]. When sowing in containers, place 2 - 3 seeds in each container, thinning to the best plant once they have germinated. Seedlings usually emerge 4 - 7 days after sowing[
]. Keep the plants growing quickly and plant out once they are 15cm or more tall.