There is a disagreement over the correct name for this species. We have followed the treatment in Tropicos and GRIN, but some other authorities recognise Luffa cylindrica M.Roem. As the correct name[
Cucumis fricatorius SessÃ© & Moc.
Luffa acutangula subangulata (Miq.) Cogn.
Luffa cylindrica (L.) T.Durand & H.Durand
Luffa cylindrica M.Roem.
Luffa fricatoria Donde
Momordica cylindrica L.
Momordica luffa L.
Common Name: Loofah
Loofah is a vigorous annual climbing plant producing stems that scramble over the ground or climb into other plants for support, attaching themselves by means of tendrils.
This plant is the major source of the loofah sponge or skin brush, widely used for cleaning the body. The plant is also sometimes used for food and has a range of traditional medicinal uses. It is often cultivated in tropical regions of the world.
Pantropical, it probably originated in Asia, or perhaps Africa.
Not known in a truly wild situation, the plant was probably originally native to India but has been cultivated for so long that its origins are uncertain[
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A plant of the lowland tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 1,000 metres. It can also be grown in subtropical and temperate areas so long as there is a growing season of 4 months or more[
]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 23 - 27Â°c, but can tolerate 10 - 38Â°c[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,200 - 2,000mm, but tolerates 300 - 3,000mm[
]. Yields can be reduced in areas of heavy rain[
Prefers a position in full sun[
]. 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 - 6.5, tolerating 4.3 - 8.3[
Plants can produce their first crop of immature fruits within 2 months from seed[
]. Mature fruits take 3 - 4 months to ripen[
Yields of up to 30 - 40 tonnes per hectare, or 20 - 25 fruits per plant, have been recorded[
Hand pollination of female flowers in the morning can increase yields[
There are some named varieties[
Fruit - raw or cooked[
]. Young fruits can be eaten in salads like cucumber[
]. They are also used in soups, curries etc[
]. The fruit is best picked young, when about 10cm long, and used like courgettes[
]. Older fruits become fibrous and are bitter and inedible[
Young shoots, leaves and flower buds - cooked. Steamed and served with rice[
]. Used in stir-fries[
Seed - roasted, salted and eaten as a delicacy[
A cooking oil is obtained from the seed[
The loofah is an astringent, pain-killing herb that controls bleeding, promotes healing, improves circulation and milk flow[238. It acts mainly on the lungs, liver and stomach[
The fruits are used internally in the treatment of rheumatism, chest pains, backache, orchitis, haemorrhoids, internal bleeding and insufficient lactation[
Externally, it is applied to shingles and boils[
The dried fruits are used as abrasive sponges in skin care to remove dead skin and stimulate the peripheral circulation[
The mature fruit is dried and the fibrous remains used as a skin brush for washing[
]. The sponges are prepared by steeping the mature fruit in running water until the skin and seed contents have been washed away[
]. The dried fruit is also used to make items such as scrubbing pads to clean plates, pots etc; filters; table mats; insoles; sponges; sandals; shock-absorbing materials; and gloves[
Seed - can be sown 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. Keep the plants growing quickly and plant out once they are 15cm or more tall.
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