Bitter Luffa is commercially grown for its unripe fruits as a vegetable. Mature fruits are used as natural cleaning sponges. Its fruit slightly resembles a cucumber or zucchini with ridges. It ranges from central and eastern Asia to southeastern Asia. It is also grown as a houseplant in places with colder climates. English common names include angled luffa, Chinese okra, dish cloth gourd, ridged gourd, sponge gourd, vegetable gourd, strainer vine, ribbed loofah, silky gourd, ridged gourd, silk gourd and sinkwa towelsponge.
Bitter Luffa is a tropical running vine with rounded leaves and yellow flowers. Both female and male flowers appear on the same plant. Leaves are angled, but little if at all lobed except on young shoots. Fruit is obovoid-oblong, both ends obtuse, conical, 5-8 cm long, 3-4 cm thick, 10-ribbed, seeds small.
The seeds are emetic and purgative. They are eaten to expel intestinal worms.
The fruits and seeds are used in herbal preparations for the treatment of venereal diseases, particularly gonorrhoea. A leaf extract is applied on sores caused by guinea worms to kill the parasite. The leaf sap is applied to skin affections such as eczema, and is used as an eyewash to cure conjunctivitis.