An Introduction

Sponge Gourd or Loofah/Lufah refers to any of several tropical annual climbers, cultivated for its edible young fruits. This member of the gourd family also grows as an ornamental plant in many parts of the world. The fruit of two main species viz. luffa acutangula and luffa aegyptiaca, is widely used as a vegetable in many Asian and African countries. It is one of the most popular vegetables of India. Matured sponge gourds are also used as a bath or kitchen sponge after being processed to remove everything but the network of xylem.

Primarily cultivated in India and the Middle East, where the name originates, sponge gourd is also

grown in other warm, dry regions. As a hot weather crop, this plant prefers warm, dry climates, and is very sensitive to frost. The plants need to be watered regularly, but should not be allowed to become waterlogged.

Descriptors for sponge gourd

Sponge gourd prefers pH of around 6 to 6.8. High level of K andsponge gourd P is recommended. It also grows well in green house and will grow on many soil types but well drained sandy loams are preferred. Seeds need to be germinated at 25oC and grown on and transplanted when the soil temperature is about 18oC Although Ghiraula can be left to grow along the ground, best yields and fruit quality are obtained using a support structure or trellis system. In Nepal it is grown in living trees, dead branches, walls, roofs etc.

Definitions and guidelines

Descriptors are associated information of a particular species.They are generally used to distinguish, identify, locate, describeand evaluate the genotypes in question. Descriptors listed here are passport, management, environment and site, characterization and evaluation. These are interlinked and some descriptors are overlapped.

Uses

Plant is bitter tonic, emetic, diuretic and purgative and useful in asthma, skin diseases and splenic enlargement. It is used internally for rheumatism, backache, internal hemorrhage, chest pains as well as hemorrhoids. Young fruit can be eaten raw like cucumber or cooked like squash, while the young leaves, shoots, flower buds, as well as the flowers can be eatensponge gourd exporter after being lightly steamed. The seeds can be roasted as a snack, or pressed to produce oil. Externally, it is used for shingles and boils. The dried fruit fibers are used as abrasive sponges in skin care, to remove dead skin and to stimulate the circulation. The fruits are anthelmintic, carminative, laxative, depurative, emollient, expectorant, tonic and galactagogue and are useful in fever, syphilis, tumours, bronchitis, splenopathy and leprosy. The vine is most commonly grown for the fibrous interior of the fruits. Kernel of seed is expectorant, demulcent and used in dysentery. Seed oil is used in leprosy and skin diseases.

The seeds for cultivating hybrid tomatoes is the first picking is recommended only after 60 to 70 days of transplanting. Our high quality hybrid tomatoes seeds help in the cultivation of deep red, shiny, oval shaped tomatoes that are developed in a bunch of five. The tomatoes are resistant to Verticillum and Fusarium Wilt and Viral diseases and are also tolerant to sun scald due to fruits covered by green foliage. The tomatoes have a shelf-life of 5-6 days and are suitable for both local and distant market transportation. The cultivation of tomatoes is done all the year round.

Sponge Gourd…in Other Languages

This vegetable is known by various names in different regions of the world such as:

* Torai in Hindi & Urdu
* Bhol in Assamese
* 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
* Patola in Tagalog
* Kabatiti in Ilocano
* Gambas or oyong in Indonesian.

Culinary Uses
In many African and Asian countries, Sponge Gourd are a commonly used as vegetables. Almost all spices of this annual vine are edible, but they must be consumed before they mature, or they will be too woody and fibrous to eat. When cooked, it gives a sweet and delectable aroma. In India it is cooked in variety of ways. “Torai Bhurta” is quite popular among Indians and Pakistanis. In some menus, it is also described as “Chinese Okra.”

Medicinal Properties
Sponge gourd possess many healing and medicinal properties and is quite useful in asthma, skin
diseases and splenic enlargement. Researchers discovered that its regular consumption is helpful for rheumatism, backache, internal hemorrhage, chest pains as well as hemorrhoids.

As a Sponge
It serves wonderfully when used as a kitchen and bathroom sponge. Its dried fibrous interior acts as a natural skin shiner. Like other sponges, loofah will collect bacteria if it is kept moist and warm, an environment common to bathrooms. As a dry brush, it will gently remove the surface layer of dead skin, leaving the skin smooth and conditioned.

When used as a kitchen sponge, it makes a great abrasive sponge for removing stubborn food particles from dishes and counter tops. It is also gentle enough to use on delicate things like coated cookware which cannot withstand normal abrasives.

Common Names: Loofah, Sponge Gourds, Vegetable Sponge, Wash Sponge, Gourd Towel, Dishcloth Gourd

Luffa cylindrica Seeds
Luffa cylindrica or Sponge luffa is a tropical running vine with rounded leaves and yellow flowers. Luffa cylindricaThe dried fruit fibers are used as abrasive sponges in skin care, to remove dead skin and to stimulate the circulation. The fruit are 30 to 50 centimeters long, cylindrical and smooth skinned. The interior of the gourds contains white flesh as well as a fibrous structure that is dried and used as a sponge. Luffa cylindrica is a very fast growing vine and will reach 3 to 4.5 meter. The vines may be left to grow on the ground but grows best when given an support to grow on. If growing for sponges, allow the fruits to turn from green to yellow on the vine. Fruits will lose quite a bit of moisture and become light. Harvest, pull of thin outer skin and remove seeds. The fibrous core should then be bleached and dried before using. Young fruit can be eaten raw like cucumber or cooked like squash, while the young leaves, shoots, flower buds, as well as the flowers can be eaten after being lightly steamed. The seeds can be roasted as a snack, or pressed to produce oil.