Gourd-zilla!

My Sponge gourd/Luffa cylindrica crop this year.

One of the most common Asian and African vegetables must be the Sponge gourd. There are two varieties of the Sponge gourd, one is ridged (Luffa  acutangula) and the other one that I grow (Luffa cylindrica or Luffa aegyptiaca) has a smooth outer skin.The title of my post refers to the way these vines bear the fruit and also threaten to take over its immediate surroundings. Like ledges, walls, posts, and so on. There’s just one word for them. Prolific! The tender fruit is consumed as a vegetable. On maturity the gourds can be left to dry and then used as a kitchen or bath sponge.

The vine has taken over this mango tree in our neighbourhood

Around  this time of the year it’s a common sight to see the vines take over trees and roofs, fences and poles. The bright yellow flowers look lovely in the mornings when they’re fully open and attract several pollinators. By late afternoon the flowers close.

I’ve never thought of a tendril as life-threatening but this is what I saw on my gourd vine last year. I’ve used this photo in one of my earlier posts. An unlucky dragonfly must have been in the way when the tendril was reaching out for support.

 

The blooms attract all kinds of bugs. Bees, wasps, skippers and tiny beetles are usually seen on them.

With all the bugs around which predator lurks betwixt the leaves? The common garden lizard never had it so good!!

When the fruit becomes fully mature, the skin hardens up and turns brown. It can be easily peeled and underneath is the loofah (also spelt as luffa and lufah) that we all recognize. By this time the seeds also turn black and a vigorous shake of the dried vegetable ensures that most of the seeds fall o0ff. They can be dried and then stored for the next year’s planting.

 

The newest addition to my bathroom...a new home-grown loofah

All along I had thought that the loofah was only used in the kitchen and the bathroom but  I found out on Wiki that they are also used to make the soles of beach sandals. The term is also used to describe synthetic bath tools that serve the same purpose. In Paraguay, panels are made out of loofah combined with other vegetable matter and recycled plastic. They are then used to create furniture and construct houses.

Other names of this particular gourd are: Smooth loofah, Egyptian loofah, and Dishrag gourd.

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About Kanak Hagjer

Hello from north-east India! I love to blog about all things floral and foliar and sharing the beauty of my region is what I am most passionate about!
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10 Responses to Gourd-zilla!

  1. andrea says:

    At least in your case you have the trellis in your first photo, ours is the ridged variety because we don’t like the smell of the smooth kind. But ours is as prolific and vigorous as yours, overpowering the canopy of coffee trees, papaya, leucaena, etc which might be on the way, same as your 2nd photo. And because there are lots of fruits, we cannot consume all of them, so we give neighbors and many still mature on the vine. I am so amazed at that dragon fly because tendrils don’t grow that fast. I guess that insect did not leave the spot for hours and the tendril grow around its body. Or maybe something is wrong with it, that it was not able to fly.

  2. Anita says:

    Homegrown loofahs! Now that’s one more step towards self sufficiency. This was a very interesting post. BTW, the case of that dragonfly is bizarre. I can’t understand how the creature allowed a tendril around it like that.

  3. ladyfi says:

    That’s a huge gourd! And what a lovely lizard shot.

  4. Autumn Belle says:

    This is the first time I see the loofah plant. The fruit looks juicy and delicious. I still can’t help wondering what happened to the dragonfly. Perhaps it died before the tendril twined over it?

  5. This is all so interesting! I never even knew that the loofahs were made from gourds, I thought they were sea sponges!! And now i get to see what it looks like when fresh!!! So many different uses!

  6. That lizard haha… And I love your loofah! Now I wonder how many kinds of gourd can make loofah 😉

  7. lotusleaf says:

    Wow! It gladdens my heart to see so many gourds hanging down. They never seem to do well in my garden:( Loofa is very good for skin care.

  8. stardust says:

    dI suppose you meant giant Godzilla-like gourd by “gourd-zilla”? How creative! We often eat soft gourd as pickles. “Goya”, or bitter gourd with bumps on the surface, is popular. Vines of gourd serves to lower the room temperature a little when the trellis is placed right outside the windows, we call it “gourd curtain.” The yellow flowers are lovely and I wonder if the upside-down dragonfly was okay.

  9. easygardener says:

    Looks like you have enough loofahs to last several lifetimes 🙂

  10. Mats says:

    Wonderful photos! Me like.

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