Fun Fact: Gourd

March 17, 2022

Fun Fact:  That loofah in your shower is not a sea sponge, it’s a gourd.

We think we can forgive ourselves if we assumed they were once sea creatures, enjoying sunny days in tidal pools. If you look at the cross section more closely, you’ll probably recognize its vegetal background.

Luffa aegyptiaca and Luffa cylindrica are vigorous annual vines in the Cucurbitaceae family, and are closely related to squashes, watermelons, and cucumbers. When dried, the fibrous flesh of their mature fruit can be used as “sponges”, but the flowers and young fruit can also be eaten.

Luffas like full sun and well-drained, moist soil. They need a long time to ripen (150 to 200 warm days), so they may be challenging to grow in Alberta, but if you have a particularly green thumb, there are reports of people in Zone 3 having some success. Generally, anything Zone 6 and above (left coasters, southern Ontario, right coasters, we are looking at you) is ideal, just make sure to give them lots of room. Vines can spread up to 30 feet and yield a dozen or more fruits each.

If your interested in learning more, check out this video on how to harvest your own loofah!