In order to explore the domestication and ethnobotany of Luffa aegyptiaca, collections were made from two regions where wild plants and the domesticate occur: an area in and near southern China, represented by Yunnan Province (China) and northern Laos; and the Indian subcontinent, represented by southeastern Nepal. The allozyme evidence was inconclusive with respect to the region of domestication due to the small sample size of wild accessions from Nepal but suggests a single place of domestication. Principal Components Analysis of morphological characters revealed that some accessions of the domesticate from Yunnan and Laos were more similar to the wild type than were those from Nepal. Compared to the wild type, the domesticate had non-bitter, larger, and indehiscent fruits, flowered earlier, and had thicker fruit vascular bundles. The nutritional content of traditional cultivars was superior to that of a single modern cultivar that was examined.
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Vol. 59 • No. 2