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Organic luffa sponge

February 12, 2012

The vascular system of the cucumber relative ‘luffa’ or ‘loofah’ (Luffa cylindrica syn. L. aegyptiaca, Cucurbitaceae) is often used as a sponge at spas. This native of the old world tropics has a remarkable and flexible surface which contributes to keep your skin in good trim (removing dead cells). We grew a batch at Dokmai Garden in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, mostly for food since they are edible when young. Recently we harvested our mature fruits and so garden school students and family members have enjoyed using these luxurious sponges for skin massage while taking a shower. ‘Angled luffa’, L. acutangula, is more commonly sold in the Chiang Mai markets as food. This Indian fruit has ridges, while true L. cylindrica are smooth. The vascular bundles of this species can also be used as a sponge, but they are less durable.

If grown as a sponge, even systemic pesticides which goes inside the plant may have been used. Personally I would not rub my skin with such chemicals, designed to kill.

Our  lifetime members may pick up up an organic luffa for free next time they come and visit. Other visitors may buy one for 50 Baht to support the Orchid Ark.

Organic and unbleached luffa from Dokmai Garden.

Text & Photo: Eric Danell

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