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.