Luffa Gourds, a Wildly Unique Plant
Luffa Gourds a unique plant that can be used as edible when young but when matured turns into this wildly unique sponge .
Luffa aegyptiaca is a species of Luffa grown for its fruit. The fruit somewhat resembles a cucumber. The young fruit is eaten as a vegetable and is commonly grown for that purpose in tropical Asia. Unlike the young fruit, the fully ripened fruit is strongly fibrous and is used to make scrubbing bath sponges.
Due to the use of the ripe fruit as a scrubbing sponge, it is also known by the common names dishrag gourd, rag gourd, sponge gourd, and vegetable-sponge. It is also called smooth luffa to distinguish it from the ridged luffa, which is another species of luffa used for the same purposes.In English, the name is also spelled loofah.
The plant is an annual, native to South and Southeast Asia (in Vietnamese language it is called mướp hương).
As a tropical plant, it requires lots of heat and lots of water to thrive. It is a climbing vine and is best grown with a trellis support.
Luffa Gourd Fruits
The fruits, which are about 30 cm long, hang vertically (unlike their relatives the cucumbers, where the fruits grow on the ground horizontally). Sometimes L. aegyptiaca is grown as an ornamental vine. It has big yellow flowers before the fruits form.
The luffa sponge is quite unique, luffas are quite a conversation piece, I only discovered these just over a year ago, when I saw a video showing the process of harvesting and using the sponges for daily care.. This really was intriguing and unique at the same time.
The Washrag gourd is a very fast growing annual that produces vines up to twelve feet or more. I have seen them grow over 20 ft. high in trees and produce dozens of gourds per plant.
Luffa Gourd Care
When fully matured, you can peel off the dried and crisp outer shell to expose the fibrous sponge. To clean your Loofah you wash it in clean water and then soak it in a solution of bleach and water and allow to dry in the sun. Loofah sponges will last a long time if washed and allowed to dry after each use. Just remember, luffas need lots of water, and space to grow !
I have yet to grow these multi purpose gourds but have heard to give them plenty of room to spread, they also produce oodles of seed from just one gourd.. so look out!