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Genus Abelmoschus Family Malvaceae

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.


Photo © ANBG

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
Taxon concept:

 Key to the species 
1Epicalyx 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 hairsAbelmoschus 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 glabrousAbelmoschus manihot

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