Luffa acutangula Roxb

[From Arabic, lufah = Luffa acutangula Roxb., and from Latin, acutus = acute and angulus = angle]

Common names: Thapwot (Burmese); ronung chrung (Cambodian); jalini (Sanskrit); pekankai (Tamil).

Physical description: It is a monoecious climber cultivated in many warm countries for its edible berries. The stems are 5-angled, hairy and rigid. Leaves: simple, alternate and without stipules. The petiole is channeled, hairy and 7 mm-2 cm long. The tendrils are slender and 3-fid. The blade is papery, 5-lobed, 5 cm x 6cm-7cm x 8.5 cm, and mottled with white spots on the surface and hairy underneath. The nerves are flat above and raised on the underside of the blade and the tertiary nerves are indistinct. The male flowers are arranged in axillary, 12-20 flowered racemes of 10 cm-15 cm long. The calyx is hairy, 1.3 cm long and consists of lanceolate 1 cm long sepals. The corolla comprises of 5 petals of 2 cm long, and is somewhat hairy, obovate, and yellow with green veins. The andrecium consists of 3 stamens. The female flowers are solitary, in the same axil as the males on 5cm-10cm long pedicels and comprise of an ovary which is strongly ribbed. The fruits are smooth, 10-ribbed, green, about 15 cm x 4 cm dull green berries (Fig. 114).

Uses: In Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, the seeds are eaten to induce vomiting, stop hiccups, and relieve the bowels of costiveness. A paste made from the leaves is used to treat zona. In India, the berries are used to treat fever, expel worms from intestines, and cure biliousness, asthma, and bronchitis. In Indonesia, the leaves are used to treat fever. In Malaysia, the juice is used after childbirth.

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