Across the Nation, climatic shifts occur. Challenging, all to identify plants which enable eco sustainable urban suburban landscapes. As a result, Luffa Aegyptiaca is recognized as ‘plants of CARE’ for its eco sustainable characteristics and ability to connect people to the living green that surrounds them.
Loofahs or luffas are the fibrous seed pod portions of a gourd on a vine. When matured, the vine's cylinder-shaped fruits grow into a long, fibrous pod that contains the loofah. The resulting sponge is commonly used for scrubbing and exfoliating in the bath.
History - The fruits and flowers of the loofah gourd have been used for centuries by Asian and African cultures as a food source. The sponge-like seed pods are also used in various applications such as soaps, mats and, more commonly, as a bath sponge. A member of the Cucurbitaceae plant family, which also includes melons, squashes and cucumbers, a fun historical fact is prior to World War II, most loofahs produced in the U.S. were used as filters in a ship's boiler. Burpee's 1888 catalogue said, "A natural dishcloth, and a most admirable one. Many ladies prefer this dishcloth. The fruit grow about 2', and the vine is very ornamental, producing clusters of yellow blossoms, in pleasing contrast with the silvery-shaded, dark green foliage. In the North this variety requires starting in a hotbed. The dried interiors of these gourds have already become an article of commerce; grown in Florida, they are sold by Philadelphia and NY druggists."
Varieties - The types of loofahs grown can vary depending on desired use. Loofahs grown for their edibility usually contain less dense fibers than those grown commercially for their sponges. A loofah's size and shape also varies depending on the type of gourd planted. A naturally grown, unaltered loofah is usually dark or tan in color. Loofahs grown or purchased by a commercial supplier may be bleached white. In addition to its home and garden attributes, flower blooms are excellent habitat attraction for pollinators; and specific to intriguing children, the dried gourd can be used to create globe style bird houses.
Virginia Tech research recommends some gourds such as the luffa gourds are fairly tolerant of insects and diseases so few controls would be needed. Pollination, as with pumpkins, is essential for adequate fruit production. If you're planning to save seeds then hand pollination will prevent cross-pollination from occurring although this can be time consuming. Additional research information is available at Va Tech web site http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/2906/2906-1368/2906-1368.html.
In addition to its sustainability, what makes the Luffa/Loofah Aegyptiaca different? These plants are identified to flourish in multiple climate zones, recognized as enabling eco sustainable habitats; and through their vibrant characteristics, intrigued mankind for centuries. In honor of fall as a season for planting and harvest, Luffa/Loofah Aegyptiaca is spotlighted as ‘Plants of CARE’ challenging all to select and install plants which enable eco prosperity. For, prosperity is not defined in terms of money. It is a spiritual matter, an ongoing faith – not cash – which creates a sense of earthy friendly abundance.
For details of other plants recognized to be 'plants of CARE', link to the Wright Scoop blog - http://blog.thewrightscoop.com/2013/04/23/plants-of-care-.aspx