Okra - Abelmoschus esculentus Okra - Abelmoschus esculentus
Foto: botanika.wendys.cz

Herb: Okra


Latin name: Abelmoschus esculentus


Synonyms: Hibiscus esculentus


Family: Malvaceae (Mallow Family)



Medicinal use of Okra:

The roots are very rich in mucilage, having a strongly demulcent action. They are said by some to be better than marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis). This mucilage can be used as a plasma replacement. An infusion of the roots is used in the treatment of syphilis. The juice of the roots is used externally in Nepal to treat cuts, wounds and boils. The leaves furnish an emollient poultice. A decoction of the immature capsules is demulcent, diuretic and emollient. It is used in the treatment of catarrhal infections, ardor urinae, dysuria and gonorrhoea. The seeds are antispasmodic, cordial and stimulant. An infusion of the roasted seeds has sudorific properties.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Annual


Height:
100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)

Flovering:
July to
September

Habitat of the herb:

Not known in a truly wild situation.

Edible parts of Okra:

Immature fruit - cooked on their own or added to soups etc. They can be used fresh or dried. Mucilaginous, they are commonly used as a thickening for soups, stews and sauces. The fruits are rich in pectin and are also a fair source of iron and calcium. The fresh fruits contain 740 iu vitamin A. The fruit should be harvested whilst young, older fruits soon become fibrous. The fruit can be up to 20cm long. Seed - cooked or ground into a meal and used in making bread or made into "tofu" or "tempeh". The roasted seed is a coffee substitute. Probably the best of the coffee substitutes. The seed contains up to 22% of an edible oil. The leaves, flower buds, flowers and calyces can be eaten cooked as greens. The leaves can be dried, crushed into a powder and stored for later use. They are also used as a flavouring. Root - it is edible but very fibrous. Mucilaginous, without very much flavour.

Other uses of the herb:

A fibre obtained from the stems is used as a substitute for jute. It is also used in making paper and textiles. The fibres are about 2.4mm long. When used for paper the stems are harvested in late summer or autumn after the edible seedpods have been harvested, the leaves are removed and the stems are steamed until the fibres can be stripped off. The fibres are cooked for 2 hours with lye and then put in a ball mill for 3 hours. The paper is cream coloured. A decoction of the root or of the seeds is used as a size for paper.

Propagation of Okra:

Seed - sow early spring in a warm greenhouse. The seed germinates in 27 days at 15C or 6 days at 35C. When large enough to handle, prick them out into individual pots and plant them out after the last expected frosts.

Cultivation of the herb:

Not known in a truly wild situation.

Known hazards of Abelmoschus esculentus:

The hairs on the seed pods can be an irritant to some people and gloves should be worn when harvesting. These hairs can be easily removed by washing.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.