The fruit of these species is cultivated and eaten as a vegetable. The fruit must be harvested at a young stage of development to be edible. The vegetable is popular in China and Vietnam.
When the fruit is fully ripened it is very fibrous. The fully developed fruit is the source of the loofah scrubbing sponge which is used in bathrooms and kitchens as a sponge tool.
Luffa are not frost-hardy, and require 150 to 200 warm days to mature.
The name Luffa was borrowed by European botanists in the 18th century from the Egyptian Arabic name لوف lūf.