Description: Shrubs or herbs.
Leaves either triangular and hastate with margins entire or palmately lobed with margins toothed; petiolate; stipules linear.
Flowers axillary and solitary or in terminal racemes. Epicalyx segments 4–12, persistent [or shed early]. Calyx spathe-like, split to base on one side, apically toothed, falling with petals and staminal column. Staminal column variously divided, bearing numerous filaments to base. Ovary 5-locular, each with many ovules; style with 5 ± sessile cushion-like stigmas.
Capsule oblong or cylindrical, dehiscing by 5 valves.
Distribution and occurrence: World: 15 species, tropical Africa, Asia & northern Australia (introduced in other regions). Australia: 3 species, Qld, N.S.W., N.T., W.A.
A. esculentus (L.) Moench (Okra, Gumbo) is sometimes cultivated as a vegetable and A. manihot (L.) Medikus is occasionally grown as an ornamental.
Text by A. S. Mitchell & E. H. Norris
| ||Key to the species|| |
|1||Epicalyx segments 6–10, linear to lanceolate, mostly 1–2.5 mm wide; capsules 4–8 cm long, terete or more or less 5-angled; leaves shallowly to deeply lobed, lobes toothed; stems with spreading to retrorse, simple hairs||Abelmoschus moschatus|
|Epicalyx segments mostly 4–6, ovate to oblong, 5–10 mm wide; capsules 3–6 cm long, strongly 5-angled; leaves deeply lobed, lobes coarsely toothed to more or less lobed or sometimes entire; stems with more or less spreading simple, few-branched or stellate hairs to glabrous||Abelmoschus manihot|