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Luffa aegyptiaca - Mill.

Common Name Loofah
Family Cucurbitaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Not known in a truly wild situation, the plant was probably originally native to India but has been cultivated for so long that its origins are uncertain[521 ].
Range Pantropical, it probably originated in Asia, or perhaps Africa.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (5 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Luffa aegyptiaca Loofah

Luffa aegyptiaca Loofah


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Luffa aegyptiaca or commonly known as Loofah is an annual vine popular for its fruits. It is native to South and Southeast Asia. The flowers are yellow. The fruits are about 30 cm long resembling a cucumber. The fruits are edible when young but become highly fibrous and inedible as they mature. However, such characteristics of mature fruits make it ideal to use as a scrubbing sponge. Young shoots, leaves, flower bugs, and seed are edible as well. The seed also yields edible oil. Further, loofah exhibits medicinal properties as well. It controls bleeding, improves circulation, and promotes healing. The fruit, in particular, is used in the treatment of various conditions such as rheumatism, chest pains, back pains, orchitis, hemorrhoids, internal bleeding, and insufficient lactation.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Luffa aegyptiaca is an evergreen Annual Climber growing to 15 m (49ft) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The flowers are pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Cucumis fricatorius Sessé & Moc. Luffa acutangula subangulata (Miq.) Cogn. Luffa cylindrica (L.) T.D


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Fruit  Leaves  Oil  Seed  Shoots
Edible Uses: Oil

Fruit - raw or cooked[418 ]. Young fruits can be eaten in salads like cucumber[301 ]. They are also used in soups, curries etc[300 , 301 ]. The fruit is best picked young, when about 10cm long, and used like courgettes[296 ]. Older fruits become fibrous and are bitter and inedible[300 , 418 ]. Young shoots, leaves and flower buds - cooked. Steamed and served with rice[301 ]. Used in stir-fries[296 ]. Seed - roasted, salted and eaten as a delicacy[301 ]. A cooking oil is obtained from the seed[301 , 418 ].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antihaemorrhoidal  Antirheumatic  Astringent  Miscellany  Skin  Stomachic

The loofah is an astringent, pain-killing herb that controls bleeding, promotes healing, improves circulation and milk flow[238. It acts mainly on the lungs, liver and stomach[238 ]. The fruits are used internally in the treatment of rheumatism, chest pains, backache, orchitis, haemorrhoids, internal bleeding and insufficient lactation[238 ]. Externally, it is applied to shingles and boils[238 ]. The dried fruits are used as abrasive sponges in skin care to remove dead skin and stimulate the peripheral circulation[238 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Miscellany  Oil  Scourer

Other Uses The mature fruit is dried and the fibrous remains used as a skin brush for washing[296 ]. The sponges are prepared by steeping the mature fruit in running water until the skin and seed contents have been washed away[200 ]. The dried fruit is also used to make items such as scrubbing pads to clean plates, pots etc; filters; table mats; insoles; sponges; sandals; shock-absorbing materials; and gloves[418 , 521 ].

Special Uses

Food Forest

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of the lowland tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 1,000 metres. It can also be grown in subtropical and temperate areas so long as there is a growing season of 4 months or more[418 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 23 - 27°c, but can tolerate 10 - 38°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,200 - 2,000mm, but tolerates 300 - 3,000mm[418 ]. Yields can be reduced in areas of heavy rain[300 ]. Prefers a position in full sun[238 ]. Plants succeed in poor soils, but fruit best in soils of moderate fertility[296 ]. Plants are most productive when grown in well-drained soils with a high content of organic matter[300 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 6.5, tolerating 4.3 - 8.3[418 ]. Plants can produce their first crop of immature fruits within 2 months from seed[296 ]. Mature fruits take 3 - 4 months to ripen[418 ]. Yields of up to 30 - 40 tonnes per hectare, or 20 - 25 fruits per plant, have been recorded[418 ]. Hand pollination of female flowers in the morning can increase yields[300 ]. There are some named varieties[300 , 301 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Seed - can be sown in situ or in containers[300 ]. When sowing in containers, place 2 - 3 seeds in each container, thinning to the best plant once they have germinated. Keep the plants growing quickly and plant out once they are 15cm or more tall.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here


Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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