Scientific name: Luffa cylindrica L.
English names: Smooth Loofah, Sponge Gourd.
Local names: ‘Dhundul’, ‘Purul’, ‘Titpola’
Taxonomic Position According to Cronquist (1981)
|Species||: L. cylindrica|
Botanical Description of Sponge Gourd
Habit: An extensive climbing herb.
Stem: Stem glabrous, sulcate-angulate, puberulous. Tendrils rather robust, usually 2-4 feet.
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.
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.
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.
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.