Abelmoschus Notes

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Synonymy of Abelmoschus


Abelmoschus is a genus of annual, biennial or perennial malvaceous herbs placed in subfamily Malvoideae and tribe Hibisceae of the angiosperm family Malvaceae sensu APG. It is a segregate of Hibiscus, of which it was historically often treated as a section. It is distinguished from Hibiscus by the possession of a deciduous circumscissile spathaceous calyx. However DNA sequence data shows Abelmoschus is nested within Hibiscus, being related to other segregate genera such as Fioria and Kosteletzkya (some species - Kosteletzkya is polyphyletic), and sections such as Trionum, Striati, Muenchchusia and Venusti.

Species of Abelmoschus are annual or perennial herbs or shrubs, often hispid or tomentose, with mostly simple hairs. The foliage is alternate, stipulate and petiolate. The stipules are linear or filiform, and caducous (soon falling off) or persistent [sources contradictory]. The leaf-blades are palmately lobed, with crenate or dentate margins. The flowers are borne solitarily in leaf axils, or in terminal racemes. They possess an epicalyx of from 4 to 16, depending on species, mostly caducous, bracteoles. The calyx is spathaceous, that is split to the base on one side as the flower opens, and lobed or toothed at the apex. It is deciduous, falling off with the corolla and staminal column. The corolla is funnel-shaped, yellow or red, rarely white or pink, often with a darker eye, and usually large. The staminal column bears anthers throught out its length, and has a five-toothed apex.. The anthers are unilocular. The ovary is 5-locular, the locules pluriovulate, and the style single with 5 sessile or subsessile flattened capitate stigmas. The capsule is elongate, often 5-angled, beaked or mucronate, pubescent or hispid, and dehiscent (5-valved). The seeds are numerous, and are subreniform, and sometimes pubescent or squamose.[1, 2, 3]

The number of species (excluding two described in 2013) recognised varies from 6 to 15 [1, 2]. The genus has generally high chromosome numbers (Abelmoschus caillei has the highest known chromosome count in Malvoideae, although it is exceeded in Bombacoideae and Tilioideae), and includes several allopolyploids. There is considerable variation in chromosome counts from single species, and it is not clear whether this is the result of the difficulty in counting the chromosomes, polymorphism in chromosome count, or the presence of cryptic species. I have been able to identify 14 species (one apparently unnamed), but I haven't resolved every name in the genus.

4 species of Abelmoschus are crops. Abelmoschus esculentus (okra) and Abelmoschus caillei (West African okra) are grown for their fruits (used as vegetables), Abelmoschus manihot (aibika) as a leaf vegetable, and Abelmoschus moschatus (ambrette, musk mallow) for its seeds. Some species are also grown as ornamentals.

1. Abelmoschus angulosus Mast.

Abelmoschus angulosus is a wild species recorded from Sri Lanka, India (Gujarat, Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu), Pakistan, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Java and Sumatra.[4]

Hooker's Flora of British India [3] describes two varietes - var. grandiflorus, with scabrous (not hispid) petioles, yellow petals, and subpyriform seeds, and var. purpureus, with rigid spreading hairs on the petiole, purple petals and globose seeds. The subspecific taxonomy was subsequently reviewed by Sivarajan et al [5].

Synonyms of Abelmoschus angulosus include Abelmoschus brevicapsulatus Hochr., Abelmoschus rugosus Wight & Arn., Abelmoschus sharpei Copeland ex Merrill, Bamia angulosa Wall., Bamia rugosa Wall., Hibiscus angulosus var. grandiflorus , Hibiscus angulosus var. purpureus , Hibiscus angulosus Mast., Hibiscus brevicapsulatus Hochr., Hibiscus hirtus Buch., Hibiscus molochinus Alston, Hibiscus primulinus Alston, Hibiscus rugosus Mast., Hibiscus setinervis Dunn and Hymenocalyx variabilis Zenker.

2. Abelmoschus caillei (A. Chev.) Stevels
 West African Okra

Abelmoschus caillei is a cultivated species from West Africa, where it originated as an allopolyploid hybrid between Abelmoschus manihot and Abelmoschus esculentus. [6]

The same allopolyploid has been produced experimentally in Japan, where it was given the names Nori-Asa and Abelmoschus glutino-textile.

Synonyms of Abelmoschus caillei include Abelmoschus glutino-textile Kagawa, Abelmoschus manihot var. caillei A.Chev. and Hibiscus manihot var. caillei A.Chev..

3. Abelmoschus crinitus Wall.
 chang mao huang kui

Abelmoschus crinitus is a wild species from Southern China (Guangxi, Guizhou, Hainan, Yunnan), India, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

It is a perennial herb, growing to between 0.5 and 2m in height. The root is fusiform. The plant has an indumentum composed of 5-6mm long yellow hairs and a minute gray puberulence.

The corolla is around 10 to 13 cm in diameter, and is yellow with a purple center. The staminal column is around 2 cm long , with scattered anthers. The style is branched, with 5 arms, each with a flat (discoid?) stigma.

Synonyms of Abelmoschus crinitus include Abelmoschus cancellatus (L.f.) J.O. Voigt, Abelmoschus cancellatus Wall., Abelmoschus fusiformis Wall., Abelmoschus hainanensis S.Y.Hu, Abelmoschus racemosus Wall., Bamia cancellata Wall., Bamia crinita Wall., Bamia fusiformis Wall., Hibiscus bodinieri H.Lv., Hibiscus cancellatus Roxb. ex G.Don, Hibiscus cavalieri H.Lv. and Hibiscus crinitus (Wallich) G.Don.

4. Abelmoschus enbeepeegearensis K.J.John, Scariah, Nissar, K.V.Bhat & S.R.Yadav

Abelmoschus enbeepeegearensis is a recently described species [a] native to the Western Ghats of India. (It was published as Abelmoschus enbeepeegearense, but as Abelmoschus is masculine the epithet is to be corrected to enbeepeegearensis. The epithet refers to India's National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources or NBPGR.

Abelmoschus enbeepeegearense K.J.John, Scariah, Nissar, K.V.Bhat & S.R.Yadav is a synonym of Abelmoschus enbeepeegearensis.

5. Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench.
 Ladies Fingers, Okra
 Gumbo, Kinkamboo
 Calalou, Gombo
 Algalia, Candia, Gombo, Guicombo, Lagarto
 Guimbombó, Molandrón, Quimbombó, Quimambó
 Okra, Rosenpappel
 söödav muskushibisk
 ka fei huang kui

Abelmoschus esculentus is a species of unknown origin. It may be a cultigen. Origins in South Asia, North East Africa, and West Africa have been proposed. I incline to a South Asian origin on the grounds of the cytological evidence that it is an allotetraploid with the South Asian Abelmoschus tuberculatus as one parent.

Abelmoschus esculentus is an annual herb growing to 1 to 2 m. The corolla is white or yellow with a purple centre, and 5 to 7 cm in diameter. The fruit is an elongated capsule with a circular or pentagonal cross-section. It is 10 to 25 cm long, and 1.5 to 2 cm in diameter. When young it is edible.

Abelmoschus esculentus has 130 chromosomes.

Abelmoschus esculentus is widely cultivated in tropical and warm temperate regions as a vegetable. Production is greatest in South Asia (3,650,000 tonnes in 2005), West Africa (985,000 tonnes) and the Middle East (225,000 tonnes). Smaller quantities are produced in South America (Guyana is the largest producer), East Africa, Central America, Mexico, the United States, and South East and East Asia.

Synonyms of Abelmoschus esculentus include Abelmoschus bammia Webb, Abelmoschus officinalis Endl., Hibiscus esculentus L., Hibiscus ficifolius Mill., Hibiscus longifolius Roxb., Hibiscus longifolius Willd. and Hibiscus praecox Forssk..


Due to its agricultural importance there are a great number of cultivars of this species. These include

Abelmoschus sp. aff. esculentus

A chromosomal race of Abelmoschus esculentus with 72 chromosomes. This is a candidate for being one of the parents of Abelmoschus esculentus, the other being Abelmoschus tuberculatus.

6. Abelmoschus ficulneus L. (Wight & Arn.)
 Native Rosella
 ketmie faux ficus

Abelmoschus ficulneus is found in the Indian subcontinent, Australia, Madagascar, and in the Sahel zone of Africa, including Niger and northern Nigeria [7], but may be native, rather than naturalised, only in the first.

Abelmoschus ficulneus is a prickly annual herb, with palmately 3-5-lobed glabrous leaves.

Synonyms of Abelmoschus ficulneus include Abelmoschus albo-ruber F.Muell., Abelmoschus ficulneus var. albo-ruber (F.Muell.) Domin., Abelmoschus strictus Voigt, Hibiscus ficulneus L., Hibiscus prostratus Roxb., Hibiscus sinuatus Cav., Hibiscus striatus Roxb., Laguna aculeata Cav., Laguna angulata hort ex G.Don and Laguna sinuata Hornem..

7. Abelmoschus manihot (L.) Medik.
 Aibika, Sweet Mallow
 Sunset Hibiscus
 huang shu kui

Abelmoschus manihot is native to India, Nepal and southern China. It is an annual or perennial herb growing to 1 to 2 m. The corolla is yellow with a purple centre, and about 12 cm in diameter.

Abelmoschus manihot has c.68 chromosomes.

Synonyms of Abelmoschus manihot include Abelmoschus platidactylus (Bakh.) Nakai, Abelmoschus pseudomanihot (DC.) Endl., Bamia manihot Wall., Hibiscus japonicus Miq., Hibiscus manihot var. palmatus DC., Hibiscus manihot L., Hibiscus palmatus Cav., Hibiscus papyriferus Salisb., Hibiscus pentaphyllus Roxb., Hibiscus pseudomanihot DC., Hibiscus timorensis DC. and Hibiscus zenkeri Gurke..

Abelmoschus manihot is sometimes grown as an ornamental. Horticultural cultivars include

It is possible that a cultivar represents Abelmoschus tetraphyllus rathe than Abelmoschus manihot. Bates [8] notes that 'Golden Bowl' matches the former.

8. Abelmoschus moschatus Medik.
 Musk Okra
 Wild Okra
 musk seed
 Musk Mallow
 Algalia, Almizclillo, Lagarto
 Algalia, almizcle vegetal, ambarina, malva almizclera
 ilus muskushibisk
 huang kui

Abelmoschus moschatus is native to India, continental south east Asia and southern China. It is an annual or perennial herb growing to 1 to 2 m. The corolla is yellow with a purple centre, and about 7 to 12 cm in diameter.

Synonyms of Abelmoschus moschatus include Abelmoschus betulifolius Wall., Abelmoschus chinensis Wall., Abelmoschus cryptocarpus Walp., Abelmoschus cubensis Walp., Abelmoschus cucurbitaceus Walp., Abelmoschus longifolius Kostel., Abelmoschus moschatus var. betulifolius (Mast.) Hochr., Abelmoschus pseudo-abelmoschus Blume, Bamia abelmoschus R.Br., Bamia betulifolia Wall., Bamia chinensis Wall., Bamia multiformis Wall., Hibiscus abelmoschus var. betulifolius Mast. , Hibiscus abelmoschus L., Hibiscus chinensis Roxb., Hibiscus chinensis Wall., Hibiscus flavescens Cav., Hibiscus hispidissimus A.Chev., Hibiscus moschatus (Medik.) Salisb., Hibiscus pseudoabelmoschus Blume, Hibiscus ricinifolius Wall. and Hibiscus spathaceus Wall..

Abelmoschus moschatus is grown commercially for its musk scented seeds. It is also sometimes grown as an ornamental. Horticultural cultivars include

9. Abelmoschus muliensis Feng
 mu li qiu kui

Abelmoschus muliensis is endemic to southwest Sichuan, where at occurs on grassy slopes between 1200m and 2100m altitude. It is a velutinous herb reaching 1m in height, with a stem about 0.5cm in diameter, and most parts with a dense covering of yellow hairs. The foliage is alternate, stipulate and shortly petiolate. The stipules are narrow, and 1 to 1.5 cm long. The petiole is 1 to 4 cm long. The blades of the lower leaves are 6-9 cm in diameter, and have a rounded-cordate base, and obtuse or acute apex and a broadly dentate margin. Those of the upper leaves are ovate-sagittate, 7-10 cm long and 5-7 cm wide, with a broadly dentate margin and an obtuse apex. The flowers have not been observed; however from the fruiting stage it is known that the flowers are borne singly or in clusters in the leaf axils, and that the epicalyx is composed 12 filiform lobes which are 2-3mm wide and 1.5-3 cm long. [1]

There are no known synonyms of Abelmoschus muliensis.

10. Abelmoschus palianus Sutar, K. V. Bhat et S. R. Yadav

Abelmoschus palianus was described in 2013 from central India. It is similar to Abelmoschus angulosus, but differs in fruit and epicalyx characters [9, b].

There are no known synonyms of Abelmoschus palianus.

11. Abelmoschus sagittifolius (Kurz) Merr.
 creeping pink swamp hibiscus
 Yellow Mallow
 Sam bo chinh
 jian ye qiu kui

Abelmoschus sagittifolius is often classified as a subspecies (tuberosus) of Abelmoschus moschatus. However it has a different karyotype (2n=36 versus 2n=72), and therefore I follow the Flora of China [1] in treating it as a separate species.

It is found in southern China (Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hainan, Yunnan), mainland south east Asia, extending to eastern India, and also in the Kimberley and Arnhem Land areas of northern Australia. In China it is found in pine forests, on grassy slopes, and in other habitats [1, 10]. It is also grown as an ornamental.

It is a perennial herb, growing to 40 to 100 cm, or rarely 200 cm, tall. Most vegetative parts are densely pubescent, and are sometimes also setose or stellate-hairy. It has a fleshy, radish-shaped, rootstock, reaching to 5 cm in thickness.

The flowers are white, pale yellow or pink, and 4 or 5 cm in diameter. They are borne solitarily in the leaf axils, on slender but densely scabrous, 4-7 cm long, petioles. The epicalyx is composed of 6 to 12 filiform, sparsely hirsute, spreading or reflexed, bracteoles. These are around 15 mm long, and 1 to 1.7 mm wide. The calyx .... The petals are 3 to 4 cm long with an obovate/oblong shape. The staminal column is ...

Synonyms of Abelmoschus sagittifolius include Abelmoschus coccineus var. acerifolius S.Y.Hu, Abelmoschus coccineus S.Y.Hu, Abelmoschus esquirolii (H.Lv.) S.Y.Hu, Abelmoschus moschatus ssp. tuberosus Borss.Waalk., Abelmoschus quinquelobus Walp., Abelmoschus rhodopetalus F.Muell., Abelmoschus sagittifolius var. quinquelobus Gagnep., Abelmoschus sagittifolius var. septentrionalis (Gagnepain) Merrill, Abelmoschus todayensis Elmer, Abelmoschus vanoverberghii Merr., Hibiscus bellicosus H.Lv., Hibiscus bodinieri var. brevicalyculatus H.Lv., Hibiscus esquirolii H.Lv., Hibiscus longifolius var. tuberosus Span., Hibiscus rhodopetalus f. angustisectus Domin, Hibiscus rhodopetalus var. chillagoensis Domin, Hibiscus rhodopetalus F.Muell. ex Benth., Hibiscus sagittifolius var. septentrionalis Gagnepain, Hibiscus sagittifolius Kurz and Hibiscus subnudus Craib.

12. Abelmoschus tetraphyllus Wall.

Abelmioschus tetraphyllus is sometimes classified as a subspecies of Abelmoschus manihot. However it has a different cytotype (2n=c.138 versus 2n=c.68), and I treat it as a separate species. A 2016 molecular study confirms its separation, finding it more closely related to Abelmoschus ficulneus than to Abelmoschus manihot [c].

Synonyms of Abelmoschus tetraphyllus include Abelmoschus ficulneoides Walp., Abelmoschus hostilis (Wall. ex Mast.) M.S.Khan & M.S.Hussain, Abelmoschus luzonensis Merr., Abelmoschus mindanaensis Warb. ex Perkins, Abelmoschus pungens (Roxb.) J.O.Voigt, Abelmoschus pungens Wall., Abelmoschus warreensis Dalz., Bamia magnifica Wall., Bamia pungens Wall., Bamia tetraphylla Wall., Erebennus canaranus Alef., Hibiscus canaranus Miq. ex Mast., Hibiscus ficulneoides Lindl., Hibiscus hostilis Wall., Hibiscus mindanaensis Warb, Hibiscus nothomanihot F.Muell., Hibiscus pungens Roxb., Hibiscus tetraphyllus Roxb. ex Hornem. , Hibiscus vestitus Wall. and Hibiscus vriesianus Hassk..

13. Abelmoschus tuberculatus Pal & Singh

Abelmoschus tuberculatus is a wild species from India, morphologically similar to, and long confused with Abelmoschus esculentus. However it has a different karyotype (2n=58 versus 2n=130), and hybrids between it and Abelmoschus esculentus are sterile. Morphologically it can be distinguished by the tuberculate fruits, and by being smaller in most parts, especially the fruit. [11]

Abelmoschus tuberculatus is resistant to the spiny bollworm Eirias insulana and to Okra yellow vein mosaic virus, and therefore is of interest for the potential transfer of those traits to Abelmoschus esculentus.

There are no known synonyms of Abelmoschus tuberculatus.


As several species of Abelmoschus are significant crops there has been appreciable research on interspecific hybridisation. Siemonsaa [6] reports that attempts to produce hybrids among Abelmoschus manihot, moschatus and ficulneus were unsuccessful.

- Abelmoschus caillei × esculentus

Abelmoschus caillei and esculentus can be crossed. [6]

- Abelmoschus caillei × manihot

Abelmoschus caillei and manihot can be crossed. The cross is only successful when Abelmoschus caillei is the seed parent [6]

- Abelmoschus enbeepeegearensis × crinitus

Abelmoschus enbeepeegearensis and crinitus can be crossed [a]. This hybrid is sterile.

- Abelmoschus enbeepeegearensis × moschatus

Abelmoschus enbeepeegearensis and moschatus can be crossed [a]. This hybrid is sterile.

- Abelmoschus enbeepeegearensis × sagittifolius

Abelmoschus enbeepeegearensis and sagittifolius can be crossed [a]. This hybrid is sterile.

- Abelmoschus esculentus × angulosus

Abelmoschus esculentus and angulosus can be crossed.

- Abelmoschus esculentus × tuberculatus

Abelmoschus esculentus and tuberculatus can be crossed without the need for any intervention other than emasculation and hand-pollination. The hybrids show hybrid vigour, but are sterile. A fertile allopolyploid, which retains the hybrid vigour, has been created by colchicine treatment. [11, 6]

- Abelmoschus esculentus × manihot

Abelmoschus esculentus and manihot can be crossed. The hybrids show hybrid vigour, but are partially sterile. A fertile allopolyploid has been produced which can be inferred to be conspecific with Abelmoschus caillei.

- Abelmoschus esculentus × tetraphyllus

Abelmoschus esculentus and tetraphyllus can be crossed. An allopolyploid has been produced..

- Abelmoschus esculentus × moschatus

Abelmoschus esculentus and moschatus can be crossed, with difficulty. [Hamon & Koechlin, Euphytica 53: 49--55 (1991)]

- Abelmoschus sp. aff. esculentus × manihot

The 72 chromosome race of Abelmoschus esculentus can be crossed with Abelmoschus manihot. The hybrids had a tendency to produce unreduced gametes resulting in allotriploid backcross (to Abelmoschus esculentus) and allotetraploid F2 plants. However the F2 plants were of low fertility. [12]

- Abelmoschus sp. aff. esculentus × tetraphyllus

The 72 chromosome race of Abelmoschus esculentus can be crossed with Abelmoschus tetraphyllus. [6]

- Abelmoschus ficulneus × tuberculatus

Abelmoschus ficulneus and tuberculatus can be crossed. The resulting plants are sterile. An experimental allopolyploid has been produced, and is also sterile. [6 ]

- Abelmoschus manihot × tuberculatus

Abelmoschus manihot and tuberculatus can be crossed. The resulting plants are sterile. [6 ]



  1. Wu, Z. Y., P. H. Raven & D. Y. Hong, eds, Flora of China 12: 283-285 (2007)
  2. Kubitzki & Bayer, Malvaceae, in Kubitzki & Bayer, Fam. Gen. Vasc. Plants V: 5: 285 (2003)
  3. Masters, Maxwell T. in Hooker, J.D., The Flora of British India 1: 317-399 (1875)
  4. Germplasm Resouces Information Network
  5. Sivarajan et al, On the taxonomy and infraspecific classification of Abelmoschus angulosus Wall. ex Wt. & Arn. (Malvaceae), Rheedea 4: 1-12 (1994)
  6. Siemonsma, West African Okra - Morphological and Cytogenetical Indications for the Existence of a Natural Amphiploid of Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench and A. manihot (L). Medikus, Euphytica 31: 242-252 (1982)
  7. African Plants at Aluka
  8. D. M. Bates, Notes on cultivated Malvaceae 2. Abelmoschus, Baileya 16: 99-122 (1958)
  9. National Agricultural Innovation Project (of India), Annual Report 2012-2013 (2013)
  10. FloraBase (Western Australian Herbarium)
  11. Kuwada, The New Amphidiploid Plant Named "Abelmoschus tubercularesculentus" Obtained from the Progeny of the Reciprocal Crossing Between A. tuberculatus and A. esculentus : Studies on Interspecific and Intergeneric Hybridization in the Malvaceae. IX., Japanese J. Breeding 16(1): 21-30 (1966)
  12. Torao Teshima, Genetical and Cytological Studies on an Interspecific Hybrid of Hibiscus esculentus L. and Hibiscus Manihot L., J. Fac. Agric Hokkaido Imp. Univ. 34(1): 1-155 (1933)


  1. K.J. John et al, Abelmoschus enbeepeegearense sp. nov. (Malvaceae), an endemic species of okra from Western Ghats, India, Nordic. J. Bot. (2013)
  2. Sutar et al, A new species of Abelmoschus Medik. (Malvaceae) from Chhattisgarh, India, Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 60(6): 1953-1958 (2013)
  3. Olaf Werner, Mahmoud Magdy & Rosa María Ros , Molecular systematics of Abelmoschus (Malvaceae) and genetic diversity within the cultivated species of this genus based on nuclear ITS and chloroplast rpl16 sequence data, Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 63(3): 429-445 (2016)

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