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  Luffa cylindrica M. Roem.
  Family Name : Cucurbitaceae

  Synonyms : Momordica luffa, Alsomitra cylindrica, Luffa aegyptiaca

  Common Names : Dish-cloth Gourd, Smooth Loofah, Sponge Gourd

  Chinese Name : 丝瓜

Dish-cloth Gourd,Smooth Loofah,Sponge Gourd
  • Record Info
  • Life Stage & Characteristics
    • Plant Division :
      Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)
      Plant Growth Form :
      Climber, Vine & Liana
      Lifespan (in Singapore) :
      Semi-Annual / Annual-Like
      Mode of Nutrition :
  • Biogeography
    • Native Distribution :
      Old World tropics
      Preferred Climate Zone :
  • Description & Ethnobotany
    • Plant Morphology :
      [Others]: The genus Luffa is native to the Old World (4 species) and New World (3 species) tropics. Wild forms of L. aegyptiaca, one of the Old World species, can be found in Burma to the Philippines and southwards to north-easthern Australia and Tahiti.Now cultivated pantropically, it is not known where it was first domesticated. The plant also grows wild as an escape from cultivation.Growth Form: L. aegyptiaca is an annual herbaceous climber.Habitat: L. aegyptiaca grows best in the low humid tropics, up to 500 m altitude. However, excellent cultivars have emerged from Japan, grown during the summer season. Stem:Stem five-angled, growing up to 15 m in length, with 2 - 6 tendrils at each point where tendrils extend.Foliage: Leaves dark green, simple, palmately-lobed, rough-textured and with hairy stalks that are 5-10 cm long.Flowers: Flowers deep yellow, growing up to 5-10 cm in diameter and unisexual. Male flowers are borne on stalks on unbranched elongated inflorescences, known as racemes, while female flowers are solitary and borne in the same leaf-axils as the male flowers. Flowers open in the day.Fruits: Fruit dry and fibrous, splitting from a lid-like structure, known as an operculum, located at the apex of the fruit. Subcylindrical in shape, smooth, not prominently ribbed and growing to 30-60 cm long, the L. aegyptiaca fruit has a fibrous spongy skeleton network inside, containing numerous seeds that are smooth and black with a narrow wing-like margin. Green in colour when young, the fruit turns dry and brown when mature, together with the disappearance of its soft internal tissue.Cultivation: Rich soils with high organic matter content, good drainage and pH values of 6.5 – 7.5 are preferred by L. aegyptiaca. Sandy loams may also be used as a growing medium, but sufficient nutrients must be supplied. Frost-sensitive, L. aegyptiaca is intolerant of too much water, with high rainfall especially harmful during flowering and fruiting seasons. Differences in daylength sensitivity exist amongst the cultivars, there being day-neutral, short-day and long-day cultivars.L. aegyptiaca is propagated by seed.Etymology: Luffa, or loofah, is derived from the Arabic name, louff, for Luffa cylindrica, while the specific epithet, aegyptiaca, means “from Egypt” or “Egyptian”, in reference to the Old World origins of the plant.
      Ethnobotanical Uses :
      Edible Plant Parts (Edible Fruits; Edible Leaves; Edible Flowers)
      Food (Fruit & Vegetable; Herb & Spice)
      Edible Plant Parts (Edible Fruits; Edible Leaves; Edible Flowers), Medicinal
      [Others]: Food: Immature fruits, young leaves and flower buds of L. aegyptiaca are used as vegetables. The young fruits are cooked or fried for use in soups or sliced and dried for later use. Young fruits from the sweet cultivars may be eaten raw like cucumbers or pickled if small in size. Mature fruits are fibrous, bitter and inedible, containing purgative substances. The seeds are a source of edible oil. Medicine: The fibres, charred and fresh fruits, seeds, leaves and sap from the stem of L. aegyptiaca have uses in medicine and cosmetics, particularly in Japan and China. Other uses: The mature fruit of L. aegyptiaca is the source of the loofah sponge, which has many commercially important uses. Rind and seeds are removed from the mature, leaving behind the internal fibrous spongy network, which is the part that is used. One of the most significant uses of loofah sponges was as filters in engines, for which there were no other acceptable substitutes, during the Second World War, when Japan, the main producer of filters stopped exports due to the war. Loofah sponges were then also used in steel helmets and armoured vehicles for their shock- and sound-absorbing properties. Today, loofah sponges are used as insulating material, bath sponges, door and bath mats, insoles, sandals and even gloves.
  • Landscaping Features
    • Desirable Plant Features :
      Ornamental Flowers, Ornamental Fruits
      Plant & Rootzone Preference/Tolerance :
      Well-Drained Soils, Fertile Loamy Soils
      Landscape Uses :
      General, Vertical Greenery / Green Wall, Container Planting
  • Fauna, Pollination & Dispersal
    • Pollination Method(s) :
      Biotic (Fauna) (Insects (Bee))
  • Plant Care & Propagation
    • Light Preference :
      Full Sun
      Water Preference :
      Moderate Water
      Propagation Method :
  • Foliar
    • Mature Foliage Colour(s) :
      Mature Foliage Texture(s) :
      Foliar Modification :
      Foliar Tendril
      Foliar Shape(s) :
      Non-Palm Foliage (Palmate)
      Foliar Venation :
  • Non-Foliar & Storage
    • Stem Type & Modification :
  • Floral (Angiosperm)
    • Flower & Plant Sexuality :
      Unisexual Flowers (Monoecious)
      Flower Colour(s) :
      Yellow / Golden
      Inflorescence Type :
      Flowering Opening Time :
      Flower Lifespan On Plant :
      Several Days
  • Fruit, Seed & Spore
    • Mature Fruit Colour(s) [Angiosperms & Gymnosperms] :
      Fruit Type :
      Dehiscent Dry Fruit (Capsule)
The information given on this website has been compiled from reference works on medicinal plants and/or pron only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Reliance on this information is strictly at your own risk. You should always consult your physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.

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