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.)
The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.