Luffa aegyptiaca

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Luffa aegyptiaca
Luffa aegyptiaca compose.jpg
Egyptian luffa fruit
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Cucurbitales
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Genus: Luffa
Species: L. aegyptiaca
Binomial name
Luffa aegyptiaca
Mill.[1]
Synonyms[1]
  • Cucurbita luffa hort.
  • Luffa cylindrica M.Roem.
  • Luffa aegyptica (lapsus)
  • Luffa pentandra Roxb.
  • Momordica cylindrica L.
  • Momordica luffa L.
Plant.

Luffa aegyptiaca, sponge gourd,[2] Egyptian cucumber, and also known as Vietnamese luffa, for Vietnam is its native habitat (Vietnamese: mướp hương), is a species of Luffa grown for its fruit. The plant is an annual vine, native to South Asia and Southeast Asia.It is known as Awmpawng in Mizo and Bhûl (ভোল) in Assamese

Etymology[edit]

The botanical specific epithet "aegyptiaca" was given to this plant in the 16th century when European botanists were introduced to the plant from its cultivation in Egypt. In the European botanical literature, the plant was first described by Johann Veslingius in 1638, who named it "Egyptian cucumber". Veslingius also introduced the name "Luffa".[3]

Description and cultivation[edit]

The about-30-cm-long fruit resembles a cucumber in shape and size. Owing to its striking yellow flowers, Luffa aegyptiaca is occasionally grown as an ornamental.

Luffa aegyptiaca is best grown with a trellis support.[4] It requires lots of heat and lots of water to thrive.

Uses[edit]

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 inedible, and is used to make scrubbing bath sponges. Due to the use as a scrubbing sponge, it is also known by the common names dishrag gourd, rag gourd, sponge gourd, and vegetable-sponge.[1] It is also called smooth luffa to distinguish it from the ridged luffa (Luffa acutangula), which is used for the same purposes.[1]

An edible oil can be extracted from the seeds. The resulting oil meal can be fed to rabbits and catfish, or used as a fertilizer.[5]

The fibrous skeleton of the fruit is used as a household scrubber. The fiber is Xylem. It has semi-coarse texture and good durability.
Sponges made of sponge gourd for sale alongside sponges of animal origin (Spice Bazaar at Istanbul, Turkey, September 2008).
Dishcloth gourd, cooked, no salt
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 56 kJ (13 kcal)
14.34 g
Sugars 5.17 g
Dietary fiber 2.9 g
0.34 g
0.66 g
Vitamins
Vitamin A 260 IU
Thiamine (B1)
(4%)
0.046 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
(4%)
0.042 mg
Niacin (B3)
(2%)
0.26 mg
Vitamin B6
(8%)
0.099 mg
Folate (B9)
(3%)
12 μg
Vitamin C
(7%)
5.7 mg
Vitamin E
(2%)
0.24 mg
Vitamin K
(2%)
1.7 μg
Minerals
Calcium
(1%)
9 mg
Iron
(3%)
0.36 mg
Magnesium
(6%)
20 mg
Phosphorus
(4%)
31 mg
Potassium
(10%)
453 mg
Sodium
(1%)
21 mg
Zinc
(2%)
0.17 mg

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

In Art[edit]

In Palestine, Luffa aegyptiaca has been in use since the time of the Late Roman Empire. Young Luffa fruits were used for food. Mature fruits were used as bath sponges. Luffa Fruits were decorated for the first time in art of the Byzantine era in Palestine only. The Luffa fruits were decorated on mosaics of churches and Jewish synagogues in Palestine.

Luffa in Kursi mosaic, Golan Heights
Luffa in Beth Alfa Synagogue Mosaic

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d GRIN (May 10, 2000). "Luffa aegyptiaca information from NPGS/GRIN". Taxonomy for Plants. 
  2. ^ "Luffa aegyptiaca". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 23 June 2015. 
  3. ^ Johann Veslingius, De Plantis Aegyptiis, 1638. p. 48 (in Latin)
  4. ^ A Legacy of Luffa, by Elizabeth Harwick, who grows Luffa aegyptiaca successfully in South Carolina.
  5. ^ Heuzé V., Tran G., Lebas F., 2017. Luffa (Luffa aegyptiaca). Feedipedia, a programme by INRA, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. http://www.feedipedia.org/node/626 Last updated on July 18, 2017, 10:53

External links[edit]