Any of six species of annual climbing vines, also called vegetable sponge or sponge gourd, that make up the genus Luffa in the gourd family, native to the Old World tropics. Two species cultivated in temperate areas (L. acutangula and L. aegyptiaca) produce 1-ft (30-cm) cucumber-shaped fruits. Edible and greenish when young, these fruits become straw-coloured with age. On removal of the skin, pulp, and seeds, there remains a complex of closely netted vascular bundles (food- and water-carrying tubes) that resembles a sponge in texture. This spongelike product is used for bathing, for washing dishes, and as an industrial fibre.
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The Luffa or Loofah/Lufah (from Arabic لوف) are tropical and subtropical vines comprising the genus Luffa. The fruit of at least two species, Luffa acutangula and Luffa aegyptiaca, is grown to be harvested before maturity and eaten as a vegetable, popular in Asia and Africa.
The Luffa acutangula is commonly known as Ridged Gourd and is called 'توری' in Urdu, "Bhol" in Assamese, 絲瓜 si1gua1 in Mandarin Chinese, Turai in Hindi, Jhinga in Bengali, Janhi in Oriya, Gisoda in Gujarati, Beerakaya in Telugu, heeray kAyi in Kannada, peechinga in Malayalam,pirkanga in Tamil, wetakolu in Sinhala, mướp khía in Vietnamese language, patola in Tagalog, kabatiti in Ilocano, and gambas or oyong in Indonesia.
The fruit of L. aegyptiaca may also be allowed to mature and used as a bath or kitchen sponge after being processed to remove everything but the network of xylem. This version is called Lifah in Arabic, bhol in Assamese, dhundul in Bengali, ghiya tori or nerua in Hindi or "peerkankai" in Tamil or "beera kaya" in Telugu
A Luffa or Loofah sponge is used like a body scrub. Both the coarse textured sponge and the soft textured sponge are called Luffas or Loofahs. The latter soft textured luffa sponges aren't in fact derived from the luffa fruit, but are manufactured by folding in several layers of soft mesh-like fabric into a cloud-like shape; commonly used in tandem with shower gels/lotions.
Luffahs can also be grown underwater.
Gross Morphology and Absorption Capacity of Cell-Fibers from the Fibrous Vascular System of Loofah (Luffa cylindrica)
Mar 01, 2004; ABSTRACT This paper investigates the liquid absorbency potential of the vegetal cell-fibers (CF) of luffa cylindrica (LC)...