Abelmoschus manihot (Aibika) - A quick growing deciduous upright subshrub/perennial to 6 feet tall or more by 3 to 4 feet wide with upright lightly hairy stems and short side branches holding deeply lobed palmate dark green leaves. From early summer through fall the foliage provides a great foil to the showy and outward facing 5- to 6-inch-wide soft yellow flowers, each with a distinctive dark red-purple eye, that last but one day.
Plant in full sun a good garden soil with regular to occasional irrigation. Hardy to around 10F and useful in USDA Zones 8a and above and grown from seed as an annual. Cut to the ground in mid-winter. This is an attractive plant for giving a tropical feel to the garden. Its flowers are attractive to butterflies and bees and the foliage resistant to predation by deer though it is widely cultivated because of its edible leaves, flowers and roots. It is in fact considered by some to be the world's most nutritious leafy vegetable because of its high protein content (12% protein by dry weight) and is also very high in vitamins A and C, and iron.
Abelmoschus manihot comes from tropical Asia south to northern Queensland. The name of the genus is believed to come from the Arabic "abu-l-mosk" in reference to the smell of the seeds and the specific epithet is in reference to the tapioca and cassava plant Manihot which comes from the Brazilian name manioc that was used for cassava. It was formerly considered a species of Hibiscus. Other common names include Sweet Hibiscus, Edible Hibiscus, Palmate-leaved Hibiscus, Sunset Muskmallow, Sunset Hibiscus, Okra (though true okra is Abelmoschus esculentus), Hibiscus Spinach, Lettuce Tree and Queensland greens.
This plant was introduced into Europe from East India by 1712 and first listed in the US by Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon in his 1806 American Gardener's Calendar. The Wikipedia image used on this page was taken by Ton Rulkens. Our thanks for out to Kristen Yanker-Hansen, who first provided us with the seed to grow this wonderful plant.
Information about Abelmoschus manihot displayed on this page is based on our research about it conducted in our library and gathered from reliable online sources. We include observations made of this plant as it grows in our nursery gardens and in other gardens that we have visited, as well as how the crops have performed in containers in our own nursery field. We will also incorporate comments that we receive from others about this plant when we feel it adds information and particularly welcome hearing from anyone who has any additional cultural recommendations that would aid others in growing it.