Sponge Gourd

Sponge Gourd

Scientific name: Luffa cylindrica L.

English names: Smooth Loofah, Sponge Gourd.

Local names: ‘Dhundul’, ‘Purul’, ‘Titpola’

Taxonomic Position According to Cronquist (1981)

 

Kingdom :Plantae
Division :Magnoliophyta
Class :Magnoliopsida
Sub-class :Dilleniidae
Order :Violales
Family :Cucurbitaceae
Genus :Luffa
Species : L. cylindrica

 

 Botanical Description of Sponge Gourd

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Habit: An extensive climbing herb.

Stem: Stem glabrous, sulcate-angulate, puberulous. Tendrils rather robust, usually 2-4 feet.

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Leaf: Palmately 5 to 7-lobed, 15-25 cm long and as broad, lobes triangular, median lobe 8-12 cm long, apex acute or acuminate, base deeply cordate, probracts 3-7 x 2-4 mm, fleshy, ovate with 3-7 glistening glands on the upper surface, petioles 10-12 cm long, stout, scabrous.

Sponge gourd

Figure: Leaf Anatomy

Plants monoecious.

Male flowers: usually 15-20 flowers in a raceme, peduncles somewhat robust, 12-14 cm long, pubescent, calyx tube short, broadly campanulate, lobes oblong-cuneiform, apex rounded, corolla yellow, rotate, lobes oblong, 2-4 x2.0-2.8 cm, densely yellow-white,  base attenuate, stamens 5, filaments 6-8 mm long, shortly villose at the base.

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Female flowers: solitary, peduncles 2-10 cm long, ovary cylindric, puberulous, stigmas 3, expanded. Fruits cylindric, smooth, straight or slightly curved, 15-45 x 3-6 cm, ecostate, strongly fibrous inside when mature.

Seeds ovate, smooth or very sparingly tuberculate, c 12 x 8 mm, c 2 mm thick, usually black, margin slightly winged.

Figure: Seeds of Sponge Gourd

 

Economic importance: The immature fruits, young leaves and flower buds are used as vegetables. The fibrovascular bundles of ripe fruits produce bath-sponges. The seeds are emetic and cathartic. Smooth loofah is also used for producing tabic mats, door and bath mats, insoles, sandals and gloves.