Smooth Loofah (Luffa aegyptiaca)

posted in: Bees and wasps, Plants | 0
Plant showing leaves
Plant showing leaves

The Smooth Loofah (Luffa aegyptiaca) is a vigorous climber whose flowers are yellow.

Flower with stingless bees
Male flower with stingless bees

The flowers develop into elongated fruits…

Developing fruit
Female flower

…much sought after as a vegetable, used in soups or fried with egg and tang hoon (Chinese vermicelli, glass noodle).

Mature fruit
Mature fruit

The plant last for years.

Old fruit
Old fruit

As the climber scrambles along, the slender stem develops aerial roots that eventually enter the ground below. This ensures that the plant continues to survive even when its original growing point is uprooted, rot or even cut off.

Loofa scrub
Loofa scrub

The yellow flowers are visited by carpenter bees (Xylopia sp.), honey bees (Apis sp.) and stingless bees (Trigona sp.) for the pollen. In the process of collecting pollen, these bees assist in pollination.

Old fruits turn brown and are collected for the fibrous skeleton that are used as loofah body scrubs. These are also used in the kitchen.

A luffa dish with eggs and tang hoon
A luffa dish with eggs and tang hoon

The Angled Loofah (Luffa acutangula) are more seen in wet markets and supermarkets than the Smooth Loofah.

Ambled luffa at roadside market
Angled loofah at roadside market

YC Wee
Singapore
30th January 2017

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