This plant is both a food source and a natural sponge. The unripe fruit is harvested as a vegetable, where the sponges instead are made from the matured ones. Today they are predominantly grown in Asia.
Taken from either Luffa aegyptiaca or Luffa accutangula, the sponge is made from the network of xylem fiber, after all other parts are removed. It has an excellent texture to scrub, and is strong and lasting.
It has been used both as food and sponge at least since the days of the late Roman empire, with even Byzantine artwork depicting the gourds more than a thousand years back.