Luffa aegyptiaca

Luffa aegyptiaca Mill.

Common Names: Loofah, Sponge Gourd

Family: Cucurbitaceae

Habit: Luffa aegyptiaca grows as an annual vine up to 15 m in lenth, climbing on other vegetation through tendrils from leaf axils. The leaves are arranged alternately, to 25 cm in length, palmately lobed with 5 or 7 lobes, with a serrate leaf margin and acuminate leaf apex.

Luffa aegyptiaca is monoecious. The incomplete, imperfect, actinomorphic, flowers are arranged in few flowered racemes in leaf axils. The calyx has 5 fused green sepals.  The corolla has 5 fused, bright yellow petals.  In staminate flowers there are 3 stamens and no carpel. In carpellate flowers there are no stamens and an inferior ovary with a 3 locules and many seeds.  The fruit is an elongate pepo at maturity to 1 m in length.

Habitat: Luffa aegyptiaca grows in Human Altered environments (farms, gardens).

Distribution: Luffa aegyptiaca is NOT native to the Lucayan Archipelago but is grown on many islands.  It is native to the Indian subcontinent and is now grown throughout the world

Medicinal/Cultural/Economic usage: Luffa aegyptiaca is not known to be used medicinally in the Lucayan.

It is grown for the fibrous fruits which can be used as sponges, padding.

The fruits are edible  at their early stages and oils can be extracted from the seeds.