Abelmoschus manihot, the aibika, is a flowering plant in the family Malvaceae. It was formerly considered a species of Hibiscus, but is now classified in the genus Abelmoschus. The plant is also known as the sunset muskmallow, sunset hibiscus, or hibiscus manihot.
In Japanese, this plant is known as tororo aoi and is used to make neri, a starchy substance used in making washi. In Korean, this plant is known as hwang chok kyu and is used to make dak pul, which assists in making hanji (Korean paper). In Fiji, the common names for this plant are bele and vauvau. The leaves are one of the principal traditional green vegetables of Fiji (along with taro leaves and a wide variety of wild ferns). In Samoa, the plant is known as pele.
A chromatographic and spectroscopic analysis published in China Journal of Chinese Materia Medica showed that aibika contained thirteen compounds: myricetin, cannabiscitrin, myricetin-3-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, glycerolmonopalmitate, 2, 4-dihydroxy benzoic acid, guanosine, adenosine, maleic acid, heptatriacontanoic acid, 1-triacontanol, tetracosane, β-Sitosterol, and beta-sitosterol-3-O-beta-D-glucoside.
Although technically a shrub, aibika is a perennial which, under good conditions, can grow to over three meters in height. It is reputedly an extremely nutritious vegetable. Its leaves are very high in vitamins A and C, and iron, and have 12% protein by dry weight. Moreover, it is easily propagated from cuttings, easy to cultivate, relatively disease-resistant and even is considered to be of medicinal value. It is widely planted either along borders of gardens or as an intercrop throughout many traditional gardens in the tropics.
- Abelmoschus manihot (L.) Medic. Medicinal Plant Images Database (School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University) (in Chinese) (in English)