Luffa cylindrica Luffa aegyptiaca Luffa acutangula
The smooth Luffa is also known as the vegetable sponge or dishcloth gourd. A rapidly growing annual climber with a large fruit containing small black seeds.
A member of the cucurbit family ie. cucumbers, pumpkins and melons it trails around the garden and need something to climb on. A lot of people believe that the Luffa sponge comes from the sea creature but it is in fact a vegetable.
The young fruits are commonly used in various exotic cuisines and with a little imagination can be added to any vegetable stirfry. The angled Luffa Luffa acutangula is the preferred choice in Asian Cuisine. It is similar to Luffa cylindrica but has deeply fluted fruits.
Plant at the beginning the warm season directly where it is to be grown. Remember they are sensitive to frost.
When the fruit dries on the vine, the skin cracks and the seeds are held in the dry fibre. The remaining dry fruit skeletons can be used remove dead skin from your body in the shower or as a dishcloth. If you want to use them this way, pick the fruit when full size but still green and soak in water, changing daily for about a week. The outer skin will soften and peel off.
For everyone sensitive to how many carbon credits they are using, these little gems are an ecologically responsible way to wash and eat. Get the kids to grow some, they will be amazed at what they produce and can be sold on a street stall or given away as an ecological gift.