Luffa. Luffa cylindrica. Vegetable Sponge, Wash-rage Sponge, Gourd Towel.
Luffa. Luffa cylindrica (L.) Rom. Vegetable Sponge. Wash-rag Sponge. Gourd Towel.—A cucurbitaceous genus, indigenous to Arabia and Egypt, furnishing a gourd-like fruit, which presents upon the removal of the epidermis a durable skeleton of interwoven woody fibers, which are used in place of sponge. Reinhard J. Weber has furnished the following description of Luffa cylindrica as grown in this country: It is a large climbing vine, with a thin but very tough light green, succulent stem, attaining a length of from 10 to 30 feet. The leaves are alternate and palmately-lobed, of a light green color, and almost destitute of taste. The flowers are monoecious, petals five, united below into a bell-shaped corolla; anthers cohering in a mass; ovary two-celled, style slender, stigmas three. The fruit is elliptical-ovate, fleshy and dehiscent, with a green epidermis, longitudinally marked with black ridges, varying from ten to fifteen in number; under each of these ridges is found a tough, woody fiber. The seeds are numerous and almost flat, broadly-ovate, three-eighths of an inch long. (A. J. P., 1884, 6.) The fruit of L. echinata Roxb., of India, is a violent irritant poison, from which C. J. H. Warden has separated a principle allied to, if not identical with, colocynthitin. (P. J., June, 1890.)