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What do gourd plants look like?

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The plants are generally vines which climb by means of tendrils. Their leaves are lobed or divided, and are arranged alternately along the stem. The flowers have five sepals, five petals and up to five stamens. Many of the fruits have a coloured rind that hardens as it matures. Loofah The fruit of the loofah (Luffa cylindrica), also known as the sponge or dishcloth gourd, is familiar as a coarse mesh sponge used in the bath. As the long cylindrical fruit matures, its skin changes from green to yellow and then brown. After soaking in water, the skin can be peeled off to reveal the cylindrical network of cream or golden fibres. The seeds and pulp are washed away and then the loofah is dried in the sun. Loofahs are grown commercially in most tropical regions but the best come from Japan. The fibrous network provides a very efficient shock absorber, and as such is used to make sandals and insoles for shoes as well as stuffing for mattresses and saddles. Its good insulation properties are ... more
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