We visited our granddaughters village yesterday in Sakon Nakong which is in Northern Thailand. I was given these brown crispy long things which when shaken sounded like a baby’s rattle. I asked what it was and due to language misinterpretation thought it was one of the long bitter gourds you can buy and which are used for soup.
Another conversation ensued and my grandson was shaking it and banging it and asking what is this for? For me to plant I said.
The conversation then turned to how big was it and these low growing plants were pointed out to me…Oh I said ..they grow like Pumpkins….Yes mum( all the Thai Girls) call me mum.
Some time later …the kids were playing sword fights with them and one of the uncles started to peel this ” thing” and I was amazed at what was revealed….A loofah…
I have bought many loofahs over the years and always assumed that like sponges they originated from the sea.
How ” wrong” can you be…they are from a plant which is a member of the cucumber family and they grow on vines.
With their skins on, they look like zucchini sized cukes. They’re quite attractive and fast growing. The vines can reach 20 feet if they’re happy, and the fruits form on big yellow flowers.
The luffa, also spelled loofah, usually means the fruit of the two species L. aegyptiaca and L. acutangula. The fruit of these species is cultivated and eaten as a vegetable.
When grown, it doesn’t look like a loofah found in stores. It’s usually a foot long and has a yellow flower that grows with it. The plant produces male flowers first, so the first season does not produce fruit and like a cucumber, gourd or pumpkin, it’s edible,” .It is only edible when young, as when it matures, the fibers dry out, causing the insides to fall out. The hard shell left over can then be used as a sponge. While loofah can be found in stores, it can be fun to grow one. A loofah needs about 100 to 180 days to mature and it grows best if the soil temperature is about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
I have lots of seeds as when dry you can bang and the seeds come a tumbling out…so tomorrow I will be planting some and see how they grow.
In the meantime I have my own loofah to use ..fresh and new from Sakon Nakon, Thailand.