Etymology[ edit ] The synonymous botanical specific epithet "aegyptiaca" was given to this plant in the 16th century when European botanists were introduced to the plant from its cultivation in Egypt. In the European botanical literature, the plant was first described by Johann Veslingius in , who named it "Egyptian cucumber". Veslingius also introduced the name "Luffa". Owing to its striking yellow flowers, Luffa cylindrica is occasionally grown as an ornamental. Luffa cylindrica is best grown with a trellis support.
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It is an annual climbing or trailing herbaceous species that can grow to a length of 15 m. The leaves are alternate, large cm x cm ovate and dark green. The seeds are numerous, dull black, elliptic-ovoid, mm long x mm broad.
Uses Luffa is primarily grown for its fibre production. The young fruits and leaves can be cooked as a vegetable fruits are used in India to make curry or eaten fresh or dried.
In Central Africa, luffa fibre is used to brush clothes. It is also used to make hats, insoles of shoes, car-wipers, mats, sandals and gloves.
The fibre has shock and sound absorbing properties that can be used in helmets and armoured vehicles. The fibre can be used as a filter in engines or to treat water or, in Ghana, palm wine. Luffa oil meal is suitable as a fertilizer Achigan-Dako et al. However, luffa seeds and oil meal contain bitter substances that may be toxic to livestock. The use of luffa oil meal was considered inadvisable for cattle Achigan-Dako et al.
Luffa fruits and foliage are palatable and browsed by goats Achigan-Dako et al. Leaves can be eaten by horses, cattle, sheep and goats Malzy, Distribution Luffa is a fast-growing vine well suited to tropical areas or to summer-growing conditions under a temperate climate.
Luffa is thought to have originated from Asia, though some authors have also suggested a West African origin. Luffa is now widely spread in tropical and subtropical areas worldwide. Naturalized luffa occurs in forests, woodlands, thickets and grasslands, and from sea level to an altitude of m.
Luffa can grow on a wide range of soils but does better on medium-textured organic soils such as deep, well-drained sandy loams, with the pH ranging from 5.
Luffa is sensitive to frost, and excessive rainfall during flowering or fruiting hampers fruit yield Ecocrop, ; Achigan-Dako et al. Leal and its cultivation has an increasing economic importance Anandjiwala, Forage management Luffa grows well on a support such as a trellis or fence. Horizontal trellis were shown to enhance fruit yield in Sri Lanka Silva et al. Nutritional aspects Information about the composition of luffa products is relatively scarce.
The protein profile is moderately rich in lysine 4. Potential constraints Anti-nutritional and toxic factors Luffa seeds and oil meal are bitter, due to the presence of cucurbitacin B, a steroid that is cytotoxic and poisonous to some animals. Another cucurbitacin found in luffa seeds is colocynthin, a purgative terpenoid glycoside. Processes such as soaking, heat, or moist heat combined with fermentation alleviate toxicity in cucurbit seeds and meals and enhance their nutritive value Thacker et al.
Ruminants There is little information available about the use of luffa forage, products and by-products as ruminant feeds as of An early paper reported that luffa leaves could be fed to cattle, sheep, goats and horses Malzy, Luffa oil meal was reported to be toxic to cattle Achigan-Dako et al. Pigs No information is available about the use of luffa fruit, seeds and oil meal in pig feeds as of However, processing would be necessary to reduce the presence of toxic components.
Seeds Luffa seeds are a potential source of energy and protein for rabbits. Nutritional tables.
Luffa - éponge végétale 10 graines