Monday, September 14, 2009

Mellow Yellow-Loofah

Loofah or Luffa, common name for a climbing plant of the cucumber family and for the vegetable sponge derived from the plant. There are six species of loofah plant, all of which are native to the Tropics and subtropics of Asia and Africa.

Loofah is an annual, monoecious vine (where male and female flowers appear on different parts of the plant), with deep yellow flowers. The female flowers are borne singly and the male flowers are in clusters. The flowers are open for pollination only 1 day. loofah
We had this plants in our garden when I was young, I always like to use cotton bud to help the male and female flowers pollinating, just in case there are no bees or butterflies. That is very fun memory for me.

The leaves are hairless, lobed, and triangular in outline. Tendrils arise from the stems near the leaves and the numerous branches are long and slender. The fruit itself will be a deep green reaching to approximately 30-40cm long and hangs down from the stems owing to its weight. It will have a smooth cylindrical shape, resembling a cucumber.
The skin of the fruit is ridged and green, becoming straw-colored at maturity.  The young fruits of Luffah are editable, It is cooked as vegetables soups with eggs, sweet taste but most of the kids don’t like it, up to now I still don’t know the reasons.  The luffah is ready to be harvested for its sponge when the outer shell has begun to turn brown and the seeds can be heard rattling inside when the luffah is shaken. The small, brown or black seeds are wrinkled on the surface and look like watermelon seeds. It must be kept to grow the new plants in the coming year.  Place the luffah in a pot of hot water and let soak for approximately 2-3 hours. The skin on the outside of the luffah should be able to slide off. Luffah is familiar as a nice rough thing to scratch your back with when in the bath. They are used in kitchen to wash woks.    Pictures from wiki above are show:  A bag of natural luffahs, the seeds, a luffah sponge A luffa sponge whose coarse texture helps with skin polishing. Singapore now is such a modern city that our young children hardly get to see all these plants in everyday life. They are learning since about male flowers, female flowers and pollination etc only from the text book. This is such a common plants growing in every backyard garden when I was young. Last week my daughter found this plants growing in Singapore HortPark, she was so excited to see those yellow flowers and young fruits…Poor Singapore children. Lol.

This is a very easy growing plants and grow from seeds, I am wondering why those primary school not planting them in their school garden, it is a live lesson to our young children who never get a chance to see the live loofah plants and many other plants. Well, this is some thoughts long in my mind, I would like to share it here with other plants lover for this Mellow Yellow Monday
Cheers and have a happy week ahead.


Sunita Mohan said...

The loofa-gourd is also used for cooking in India. However, it has to be used when it is still tender and not fibrous. It is quite bland (and I personally feel, quite blah) but there are a lot of people who enjoy eating it.

Angie said...

What an amazing plant, nice yellow too!

Ms. Journ said...

Oh this is called Loofa. I never knew the name of this flower. Now you shared very informative about this one.
My MYM entry.