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Abelmoschus esculentus.jpg
Abelmoschus esculentus leaves,
flower buds and young fruit
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Malvales
Family: Malvaceae
Subfamily: Malvoideae
Tribe: Hibisceae
Genus: Abelmoschus

See text

Abelmoschus is a genus of about fifteen species of flowering plants in the mallow family (Malvaceae), native to tropical Africa, Asia and northern Australia. It was formerly included within Hibiscus, but is now classified as a distinct genus. The genus name derives from Arabic meaning 'father of musk' or 'source of musk' referring to the scented seeds.[2][3]

The genus comprises annual and perennial herbaceous plants, growing to 2 m tall. The leaves are 10–40 cm long and broad, palmately lobed with 3-7 lobes, the lobes are very variable in depth, from barely lobed, to cut almost to the base of the leaf. The flowers are 4–8 cm diameter, with five white to yellow petals, often with a red or purple spot at the base of each petal. The fruit is a capsule, 5–20 cm long, containing numerous seeds.

Abelmoschus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Chionodes hibiscella which has been recorded on A. moschatus.


Plants of the World Online currently includes:[4]

  1. Abelmoschus angulosus Wall. ex Wight & Arn.
  2. Abelmoschus caillei (A.Chev.) Stevels – (syn. Hibiscus manihot var. caillei). West African okra
  3. Abelmoschus crinitus Wall. – (syb. Hibiscus crinitus)
  4. Abelmoschus enbeepeegearensis K.J.John, Scariah, Nissar, K.V.Bhat & S.R.Yadav
  5. Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench – (syn. Hibiscus esculentus). Okra[5]
  6. Abelmoschus ficulneus (L.) Wight & Arn. – (syn. Hibiscus ficulneus). White wild musk mallow
  7. Abelmoschus hostilis (Wall. ex Mast.) M.S.Khan & M.S.Hussain
  8. Abelmoschus manihot (L.) Medik. – (syn. Hibiscus manihot). Aibika
  9. Abelmoschus moschatus Medik. – (syn. Hibiscus abelmoschus). Abelmosk
  10. Abelmoschus muliensis K.M.Feng
  11. Abelmoschus palianus Sutar, K.V.Bhat & S.R.Yadav
  12. Abelmoschus sagittifolius (Kurz) Merr.


Several species are edible, with both the young seed pods and the young leaves being eaten as a vegetable. The most important commercially-grown species is okra.

Abelmoschus manihot (aibika) furnishes cordage like jute, and Abelmoschus moschatus (abelmosk) is grown for musk seeds (musk ambrette, a musk substitute, which can cause phytophotodermatitis[citation needed]).[6]

Gallery of different species[edit]


  1. ^ "Abelmoschus". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2007-03-12. Archived from the original on 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2009-02-20.
  2. ^ Coombes, Allen J. (2012). The A to Z of plant names : a quick reference guide to 4000 garden plants (1st ed.). Portland, Or.: Timber Press. p. 23. ISBN 978-1-60469-196-2. OCLC 741564356.
  3. ^ Morison, R. (1680). Plantarum historiae universalis Oxoniensis t.2: 533; Morison states that according to Prospero Alpini, the Egyptians called the plant "mosch", and the seed "abelmosch". He also states that the plant and the flowers smell of musk, but the seeds much stronger. Friedrich Kasimir Medikus took his name from Hibiscus n°18 in the second edition of Linnaeus's Species plantarum (see: Über einige künstliche Geschlechter aus der Malven-Familie: 46) and Linnaeus in his turn, citing his own Hortus Cliffortianus (see: Species plantarum ed.2: 980), took the name from Morison (see: Hortus Cliffortianus: 349, last line of the page).
  4. ^ Plants of the World Online: Abelmoschus Medik. (retrieved 8 August 2021)
  5. ^ Quattrocchi, Umberto [in Italian] (1999). CRC World Dictionary of Plant Names: Common Names, Scientific Names, Eponyms, Synonyms, and Etymology. Boca Raton, Florida: Taylor & Francis. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-8493-2675-2. OCLC 41361544. Retrieved 2018-11-27.
  6. ^ "Wellness Library:Ambrette (Abelmoschus moschatus)". Archived from the original on 2018-06-12. Retrieved 2018-06-10.
  • Kundu BC, Biswas C. 1973. Anatomical characters for distinguishing the genera Abelmoschus and Hibiscus. Proc. Indian Sci. Congr. 60. (3): 295