Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Luffa acutangula
(angled luffa)

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Datasheet

Luffa acutangula (angled luffa)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 27 September 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Luffa acutangula
  • Preferred Common Name
  • angled luffa
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • L. acutangula is a large, annual climbing plant, grown commercially for its unripe fruits which are used as a vegetable (...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Luffa acutangula (angled luffa); flowering habit. India. September 2009.
TitleFlowering habit
CaptionLuffa acutangula (angled luffa); flowering habit. India. September 2009.
Copyright©Dinesh Valke/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Luffa acutangula (angled luffa); flowering habit. India. September 2009.
Flowering habitLuffa acutangula (angled luffa); flowering habit. India. September 2009.©Dinesh Valke/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Luffa acutangula (angled luffa); leaves. India. October 2011.
TitleLeaves
CaptionLuffa acutangula (angled luffa); leaves. India. October 2011.
Copyright©AMALAN619/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Luffa acutangula (angled luffa); leaves. India. October 2011.
LeavesLuffa acutangula (angled luffa); leaves. India. October 2011.©AMALAN619/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 3.0
Luffa acutangula (angled luffa); leaf. India. October 2010.
TitleLeaf
CaptionLuffa acutangula (angled luffa); leaf. India. October 2010.
Copyright©Dinesh Valke/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 2.0
Luffa acutangula (angled luffa); leaf. India. October 2010.
LeafLuffa acutangula (angled luffa); leaf. India. October 2010.©Dinesh Valke/via wikipedia - CC BY-SA 2.0
Luffa acutangula (angled luffa); flowers and leaves. Note tendrils. India. September 2009.
TitleFlowers
CaptionLuffa acutangula (angled luffa); flowers and leaves. Note tendrils. India. September 2009.
Copyright©Dinesh Valke/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Luffa acutangula (angled luffa); flowers and leaves. Note tendrils. India. September 2009.
FlowersLuffa acutangula (angled luffa); flowers and leaves. Note tendrils. India. September 2009.©Dinesh Valke/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Luffa acutangula (angled luffa); close-up of flowers. India. October 2010.
TitleFlowers
CaptionLuffa acutangula (angled luffa); close-up of flowers. India. October 2010.
Copyright©Dinesh Valke/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Luffa acutangula (angled luffa); close-up of flowers. India. October 2010.
FlowersLuffa acutangula (angled luffa); close-up of flowers. India. October 2010.©Dinesh Valke/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Luffa acutangula (angled luffa); leaves and developing fruits. India. September 2008.
TitleFruits
CaptionLuffa acutangula (angled luffa); leaves and developing fruits. India. September 2008.
Copyright©Dinesh Valke/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Luffa acutangula (angled luffa); leaves and developing fruits. India. September 2008.
FruitsLuffa acutangula (angled luffa); leaves and developing fruits. India. September 2008.©Dinesh Valke/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Luffa acutangula (angled luffa); developing fruit. India. September 2009.
TitleFruit
CaptionLuffa acutangula (angled luffa); developing fruit. India. September 2009.
Copyright©Dinesh Valke/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Luffa acutangula (angled luffa); developing fruit. India. September 2009.
FruitLuffa acutangula (angled luffa); developing fruit. India. September 2009.©Dinesh Valke/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Luffa acutangula (angled luffa); fruit. India. September 2008.
TitleFruit
CaptionLuffa acutangula (angled luffa); fruit. India. September 2008.
Copyright©Dinesh Valke/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Luffa acutangula (angled luffa); fruit. India. September 2008.
FruitLuffa acutangula (angled luffa); fruit. India. September 2008.©Dinesh Valke/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Luffa acutangula (angled luffa); developing fruit. India. October 2010.
TitleFruit
CaptionLuffa acutangula (angled luffa); developing fruit. India. October 2010.
Copyright©Dinesh Valke/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0
Luffa acutangula (angled luffa); developing fruit. India. October 2010.
FruitLuffa acutangula (angled luffa); developing fruit. India. October 2010.©Dinesh Valke/via flickr - CC BY-SA 2.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Luffa acutangula (L.) Roxb.

Preferred Common Name

  • angled luffa

Other Scientific Names

  • Cucumis acutangulus L.
  • Cucumis lineatus Bosc
  • Cucumis longus var. indicus Grew
  • Cucumis megacarpus G.Don
  • Cucumis operculatus Roxb. ex Wight & Arn.
  • Cucurbita acutangula (L.) Blume
  • Luffa acutangula var. subangulata (Miq.) Cogn.
  • Luffa amara Roxb.
  • Luffa drastica Mart.
  • Luffa fluminensis Roem.
  • Luffa foetida Cav.
  • Luffa forskalii Schweinf. ex Harms
  • Luffa gosa Ham.
  • Luffa subangulata Miq.
  • Momordica tubiflora Wall.
  • Momordica tubiflora Wall
  • Momoridica luffa Vell.

International Common Names

  • English: angled loofa; angled loofah; Chinese okra; Chinese squash; dishcloth gourd; ribbed loofah; ridged gourd; silk gourd; silk squash; sinkwa towelsponge; strainer vine; vegetable gourd
  • Spanish: espoja; esponja; esponja estropajo; muñeco; servilleta de pobre
  • French: papangaye
  • Chinese: guang dong si gua
  • German: gerippte Schwammgurke

Local Common Names

  • Cuba: estropajo
  • Haiti: liane torchon
  • India: jhinga tori; kalitori; turiya
  • Indonesia: gambas; oyong
  • Japan: tokado-hechima
  • Malaysia: ketola; petola segi
  • Philippines: patola
  • Réunion: papangaye; pipangaille; pipangaye
  • Russian Federation: ljufa
  • Sweden: kantgurka
  • Tonga: pulu kaukau
  • Vietnam: muop khia

EPPO code

  • LUFAC (Luffa acutangula)

Summary of Invasiveness

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L. acutangula is a large, annual climbing plant, grown commercially for its unripe fruits which are used as a vegetable (PROTA, 2016). Native to southern Asia, it is now widely found in tropical and subtropical parts of the world (USDA-ARS, 2016). It grows vigorously, producing long stems that scramble over the ground or climb into nearby vegetation, supporting themselves by means of tendrils (Useful Tropical Plants, 2016). It is listed as invasive in Cuba (Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012) and on Diego Garcia Island in the Indian Ocean (PIER, 2016).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Violales
  •                         Family: Cucurbitaceae
  •                             Genus: Luffa
  •                                 Species: Luffa acutangula

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Luffa is a genus of tropical and subtropical vines in the cucumber (Cucurbitaceae) family, with five accepted species (The Plant List, 2013). Phenetic and cladistic analyses of 10 Luffa accessions belonging to five species indicated that the species are well differentiated, with L. echinata the most distinct. The cladistic analyses also revealed two phyletic lines, one comprised of L. aegyptiaca and L. acutangula and the other of L. echinata, L. graveolens and L. operculata (Heiser and Schilling 1988). These results were later corroborated in a phylogenetic analysis based on molecular data (Filipowicz et al., 2014).

In L. acutangula, three botanical varieties have been distinguished: var. acutangula, the large-fruited cultivated types; var. amara (Roxb.) C.B.Clarke, a wild or feral type with extremely bitter fruits and confined to India; and var. forskalii (Harms) Heiser & E.E.Schill., confined to Yemen, where it occurs wild or possibly as an escape (PROTA, 2016). Heiser and Schilling (1988) suggest that var. forskalii could have developed from var. acutangula after this was introduced to Yemen as a cultivated plant.

Description

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The following description is from Acevedo-Rodríguez (2005):

Herbaceous vine, monoecious, creeping or climbing by axillary tendrils, attaining 5-10 m in length. Stems green, angular, scabrous; tendrils trifid. Leaves alternate; blades 15-20 cm long, 5-7-palmatilobed, chartaceous, the lobes more or less deep, the apex acute or acuminate, the base cordiform or hastate, the margins sinuate-dentate or denticulate; upper surface scabrous; lower surface pale green, scabrous; petioles 8-10 cm long. Flowers unisexual, actinomorphic. Calyx urceolate, with keeled lobes, 10-12 mm long, triangular; corolla pale yellow, the lobes deep, obtuse. Staminate flowers in racemes; stamens 3, the filaments free, 3-4 m long, villous. Pistillate flowers solitary, with a hypanthium less than 1 cm long; staminodia 3, minute, glandular; ovary inferior, tricarpellate, claviform, 10-angled, with numerous horizontal ovules, the style short, the stigmas globose. Fruit claviform, with 10 longitudinal ribs, 15-30 cm long, the pericarp crustose, dehiscent by apical pores; seeds numerous, ovate, 11-12 mm long, blackish, rugose.

Plant Type

Top of page Annual
Herbaceous
Seed propagated
Vine / climber

Distribution

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L. acutangula is native to tropical South Asia and naturalized throughout the tropics and subtropics (USDA-ARS, 2016). There is some discrepancy between sources in the exact native range, with USDA-ARS (2016) listing it as native to India and Pakistan, but GBIF (2016) recording it as introduced in Pakistan. While now present in many regions in cultivation or as an escape, there is no evidence of presence in the New World in pre-Columbian times (Heiser and Schilling, 1988). It is abundant in Asia, probably abundant in tropical Africa (JSTOR Global Plants, 2016), introduced in the West Indies and some southern states of the USA (GBIF, 2016), and also introduced and cultivated on a number of islands in the Pacific (PIER, 2016). In Cuba, L. acutangula is considered an invasive species (Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012), and it is mentioned as possibly invasive in Mexico (Vibrans, 2009) and a potential invader on Nauru in the Pacific (PIER, 2016).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

BangladeshPresentRoyal Botanic Gardens Kew, 2016Gangachara
Chagos ArchipelagoPresentIntroduced Invasive PIER, 2016Diego Garcia Island
ChinaPresentFlora of China Editorial Committee, 2016; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016Cultivated in South China
-Hong KongPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016
IndiaPresentNativeEncyclopedia of Life, 2016; USDA-ARS, 2016
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2016
-Indian PunjabPresentNativeIndia Biodiversity Portal, 2016
-KarnatakaPresentIndia Biodiversity Portal, 2016
-KeralaPresentIndia Biodiversity Portal, 2016
-MaharashtraPresentIndia Biodiversity Portal, 2016
-RajasthanPresentIndia Biodiversity Portal, 2016
-Tamil NaduPresentIndia Biodiversity Portal, 2016
IndonesiaPresentJSTOR Global Plants, 2016
-JavaPresentGBIF, 2016
JapanPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2016
KazakhstanPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2016
LaosPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2016
MalaysiaPresentIntroducedSalleh and Yusof, 2006
MyanmarPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2016; Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, 2016
PakistanPresentNativeMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016; USDA-ARS, 2016
PhilippinesPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2016; Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, 2016
Sri LankaPresentNativeGBIF, 2016
TaiwanPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2016
ThailandPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2016
VietnamPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2016
YemenPresentMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016

Africa

BeninPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2004Cultivated
ChadPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2016
GhanaPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2016Cultivated
KenyaPresentIntroducedJSTOR Global Plants, 2016
MadagascarPresentIntroducedMadagascar Catalogue, 2016; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016Antsiranana, Mahajanga
MauritiusPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2004; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016Cultivated
MozambiquePresentFlora of Mozambique, 2016
NigeriaPresentIntroducedPROTA, 2004; JSTOR Global Plants, 2016Cultivated
RéunionPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016
SeychellesPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016Agalega Island
Sierra LeonePresentIntroducedPROTA, 2004
UgandaPresentIntroducedJSTOR Global Plants, 2016

North America

MexicoPresentIntroduced Invasive Vibrans, 2009
USAPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-HawaiiPresentSmithsonian Museum of Natural History, 2016
-LouisianaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016
-VirginiaPresentIntroducedUSDA-NRCS, 2016

Central America and Caribbean

Antigua and BarbudaPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007; Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, 2016
Costa RicaPresentEncyclopedia of Life, 2016
CubaPresentIntroduced Invasive Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; Oviedo Prieto et al., 2012
DominicaPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012Distrito Nacional. Santo Domingo
El SalvadorPresentIntroducedEncyclopedia of Life, 2016
GuadeloupePresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
JamaicaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; GBIF, 2016
MartiniquePresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, 2016
MontserratPresentIntroducedSmithsonian Museum of Natural History, 2016
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; USDA-NRCS, 2016
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresentIntroducedBroome et al., 2007; Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012
Trinidad and TobagoPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2016

South America

BrazilPresentIntroducedNew York Botanical Garden, 2016
-AmapaPresentIntroducedNew York Botanical Garden, 2016
EcuadorPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016
PeruPresentIntroducedMissouri Botanical Garden, 2016Ayacucho; Loreto; San Martín; terra firme forests
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedGBIF, 2016

Oceania

AustraliaRestricted distributionIntroducedHerbariumCouncil of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2016
-South AustraliaPresent only in captivity/cultivationIntroducedHerbariumCouncil of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2016
French PolynesiaPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016Tahiti Island; Rimitara Island
GuamPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016
Marshall IslandsPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016Majuro (Mãjro) Atoll
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresentIntroducedSmithsonian Museum of Natural History, 2016Island of Moem
NauruPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016
Northern Mariana IslandsPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016; Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, 2016
PalauPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016Bismark Archipelago
Solomon IslandsPresentIntroducedPIER, 2016

History of Introduction and Spread

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L. acutangula is found wild in India where it is probably indigenous, but it has been taken by man throughout the world and is found widely in the West African region (JSTOR Global Plants, 2016). Thailand exported it to Western Europe as a vegetable for Asian communities. Japan and Brazil are the greatest exporters of loofa sponge to the USA (mainly for sponge gourd). In West Africa it is sold in markets as sponge in street markets and supermarkets (PROTA, 2004).

It has been suggested that humans may be responsible for the disjunct distribution of feral varieties of L. acutangula (Heiser and Schilling, 1988). In Mozambique it is known only in cultivation, seldom becoming naturalized (
Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, 2016). While originating in southern Asia, it is introduced in much of its current Asian range, including China (GBIF, 2016; Missouri Botanical Garden, 2016). It is now introduced and cultivated for medicinal, pesticidal and ornamental purposes in other tropical regions of the world (Useful Tropical Plants, 2016).

Risk of Introduction

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Being widely cultivated, the probability of further introductions is high, but no data could be found on the risk of it becoming invasive.

Habitat

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L. acutangula according to the literature seems to be a generalist species that can be adapted to different climates and habitats. According to the Missouri Botanical Garden (2016), L. acutangula occurs in dry and subhumid bioclimates. In Africa it thrives in dry forest and moist savannah (PROTA, 2004). In Jamaica it is found in waste areas (New York Botanical Garden, 2016), and PROTA (2016) suggests that it can be common on abandoned land, as a fallow crop and on garbage heaps. In Northern Mariana Islands it is found in weedy flats, persisting after cultivation. L. acutangula is locally cultivated and naturalized in West Africa to Sierra Leone and unlike many cucurbids it grows well in lowlands (PROTA, 2004). Also in moist deciduous forest, and found along roads and moist forest margins in central Puerto Rico (Encyclopedia of Life, 2016).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Natural
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Natural
Littoral
Coastal areas Present, no further details Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

Chromosome count- 2n = 26 (PROTA, 2016)

Physiology and Phenology

L. acutangula grows from the start of the rainy season. Flowering and fruiting take place throughout the rainy season, while fruits mature and seed dispersal commences as the whole plants become dry at the peak of the dry season (PROTA, 2016). When the plant is cultivated, flowering starts 6-10 weeks after sowing, with male flowers being produced before the female ones (PROTA, 2016). Flowers open in the evenings (PROTA, 2016). Immature fruits can be harvested for food within two months of planting the seeds (Useful Tropical Plants, 2016). The plant is pollinated by a wide range of insects, including bees, butterflies and moths (PROTA, 2016; Useful Tropical Plants, 2016).

Environmental Requirements

L. acutangula prefers seasonal climates because dry season planting is more succesful than in wet season planting. In Africa it thrives in the dry forest and moist savannah area around 8-10º N. Outside these latitudes, too much rain or excessive dryness often affect the development of fruits. It prefers well-drained soil with high organic matter and a pH of 6.5 to 7.5 (PROTA, 2016), but can tolerate pH as low as 4.5 (Useful Tropical Plants, 2016). It typically grows up to about 500 m altitude (National Parks Board, 2016). It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 32°C, but can tolerate 15 - 38°C (Useful Tropical Plants, 2016). It is intolerant of frost (PROTA, 2016). It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1200 – 2000 mm, but tolerates 700 – 3000 mm (Useful Tropical Plants, 2016).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
B - Dry (arid and semi-arid) Preferred < 860mm precipitation annually

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 20 32

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall7003000mm; lower/upper limits

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • light

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Epilachna pusillanima Herbivore Leaves not specific Tiwari and Yadava, 2008

Notes on Natural Enemies

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Cucumber green mottle mosaic virus has been associated with the leaf green mosaic disease on vegetable crops of L. acutangula (Sharma et al, 2014). Yellow mosaic virus is transmitted to L. acutangula plants in India by the whitefly, Bemisia tabaci (Hurakadli et al., 2016). In 2016, the fungal disease Athelia rolfsii was reported for the first time on L. acutangula in the USA (Kousik et al., 2016).

Fruitflies (Bactrocera cucurbitae) are an important pest of cultivated cucurbits, including L. acutangula (Birah et al., 2015). Another major pest is the beetle Epilachna pusillanima (Tiwari and Yadava, 2008), which feeds mainly on the leaves and flowers. The adult beetle feeds on the leaves from the underside, giving the leaf a lacy ‘skeletonized’ appearance. Ghule et al. (2015) in West Bengal, India, report pests including red pumpkin beetle (Aulacophora foveicollis), melon fruit fly (Bactrocera cucurbitae) and epilachna beetle (Epilachna septima).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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L. acutangula has been deliberately introduced in much of the tropics and subtropics to be grown as a vegetable and sponge crop. Mature seed dispersal commences when the whole plants become dry at the peak of the dry season (PROTA, 2004). Fruits have been reported as floating for a year, after which some seeds germinated, and it is possible that short ocean distances could be crossed in this manner (Heiser and Schilling, 1988).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Crop production Yes Yes PROTA, 2016
Food Yes PROTA, 2016
Industrial purposes Yes Yes PROTA, 2016
Seed trade Yes Yes PROTA, 2016

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenity Positive
Economic/livelihood Positive

Economic Impact

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No negative economic impact has been found in the literature. On the contrary, L. acutangula is commonly cultivated commercially.

Environmental Impact

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No published information on negative environmental impacts has been found.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

Uses

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The mesocarp, also called “loofah “, is mainly used for personal hygiene use. Due to its fibrous characteristics the fruit is used as an exfoliant (PROTA, 2004). The plant is known for its purgative and diuretic capabilities, and it is used against oedema, splenic enlargement, coughs and asthma (Khare, 2007).

The young fruit of some cultivars are used as cooked vegetables or pickled or eaten raw, and the shoots and flowers are sometimes also used. The flavour of the immature fruit varies from very bitter to sweet, giving a variety of culinary uses from eating the sweet forms raw in salads, to using more bitter forms in soups or curries (Useful Tropical Plants, 2016). Like Luffa cylindrica, the mature fruits are harvested when dry and processed to remove all but the fruit fibre, which can then be used as a sponge or as fibre for making hats (Encyclopedia of Life, 2016). The plant, including the seed, is also insecticidal (Useful Tropical Plants, 2016).

Social Benefit

A comparative analysis of the cytotoxic effects of the aqueous and organic solvent extracts of the vegetable plants Cucumis sativus (cucumber), Benincasa hispida (ash gourd), Coccinia indica, Cucurbita maxima (pumpkin) and Luffa acutangula (ridge gourd) has shown inhibitory effects on the cervical cancer cell line HeLa at very low concentrations. It is suggested that these vegetables are beneficial to consume, but that further studies are required to establish the right dosages of these dietary components (Varalakshmi and Rao, 2012).

Vanajothi and Srinivasan (2016) suggest that 1,8-dihydroxy-4-methylanthracene-9,10-dione (DHMA) from L. acutangula has therapeutic potential for lung cancer treatment. Dashora and Chauhan (2015) demonstrate antioxidant and anticancer activities of extracts from L. acutangula, while Herowati et al. (2013) report that a seed infusion of L. acutangula lowers blood glucose levels and is thus beneficial against diabetes. Other medicinal uses reported for the plant include treatment of gonorrhea, eczema and conjunctivitis (Useful Tropical Plants, 2016).

Uses List

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General

  • Botanical garden/zoo
  • Sociocultural value
  • Souvenirs

Human food and beverage

  • Beverage base
  • Fruits
  • Vegetable

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
  • Traditional/folklore
  • Veterinary

Ornamental

  • Propagation material
  • Seed trade

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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JSTOR Global Plants (2016) reports that L. acutangula is very similar to Luffa cylindrica, but distinguished from the latter by paler green leaves, more orbicular in outline, and the flowers paler yellow. In L. cylindrica the fruits are more or less terete; seeds are narrow, membraneous with wing-like margin, and flower petals are deep yellow (Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, 2016).

Mature L. acutangula fruits, used as natural cleaning sponges, slightly resemble cucumbers or zucchini with ridges (Encyclopedia of Life, 2016).

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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Little information on the invasiveness or environmental impact of introduced L. acutangula is available, and no information on control methods was found.

References

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Acevedo-Rodríguez P, Strong MT, 2012. Catalogue of the Seed Plants of the West Indies. Smithsonian Contributions to Botany, 98:1192 pp. Washington DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution. http://botany.si.edu/Antilles/WestIndies/catalog.htm

Acevedo-Rodríguez, P., 2005. Vines and climbing plants of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands., Contributions from the United States National Herbarium, 51:483 pp.

Ajanta Birah, Shrawan Singh, Singh, P. K., Roy, S. D., 2015. Evaluation and efficacy of pest management modules for cucur-bits against fruitfly, Bactrocera cucurbitae (Coquillett) in Andaman., Vegetos, 28(4):62-66 http://www.indianjournals.com/ijor.aspx?target=ijor:vetos&volume=28&issue=4&article=008

Broome R, Sabir K, Carrington S, 2007. Plants of the Eastern Caribbean. Online database. Barbados: University of the West Indies. http://ecflora.cavehill.uwi.edu/index.html

Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, 2016. Australia's Virtual Herbarium. Australia: Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria. http://avh.ala.org.au

Encyclopedia of Life, 2016. Encyclopedia of Life. http://www.eol.org

Filipowicz, N., Schaefer, H., Renner, S. S., 2014. Revisiting Luffa (Cucurbitaceae) 25 years after C. Heiser: species boundaries and application of names tested with plastid and nuclear DNA sequences., Systematic Botany, 39(1):205-215 http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1600/036364414X678215

Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2016. Flora of China. St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria. http://www.efloras.org/flora_page.aspx?flora_id=2

Flora of Mozambique, 2016. Flora of Mozambique. http://www.mozambiqueflora.com/

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02/05/2016 Original text by:

Jose Chabert-Llompart, El Pastillo ConservationTrust, Inc., Puerto Rico

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