Luffa or Loofa /Luffa Aegyptiaca/
Luffa, also known as dishcloth gourd, is a vigorous perennial climbing plant with large hairy leaves. It has large green fruits with a smooth skin and yellow trumpet shaped flowers.
The plant is the source of the luffa sponge or skin brush, widely used for cleaning the body.
Luffa fruit are used as sponges in the kitchen and as a body scrubber in the bathroom.
Other uses include as a stuffing for cushions and mattresses, as the base for sandals, craftwork, oil filters in cars, and shredded as an additive in potting mixes.
Immature fruit up to 10cms are tasty and resemble a zucchini in texture. Any bigger and they become spongy and fibrous.
Eat fruit raw in salads like a cucumber or cooked in soups and curries.
The young leaves and growing shoots are delicious eaten cooked in stir-fries or curries.
Seeds are roasted and salted as a snack.
Cooking oil is obtained from the seed.
Risks and weed potential
Harvesting & Processing
Harvest fruit for sponges when they are full size and black dots start to appear on the green skin. Soak in water for about 10 days changing the water once only when the flesh has rotted off, leaving behind the fibrous skeleton. Give a final rinse and then hang in the sun for a day to bleach.