Okra-Like Plant?


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Hi!

I've had these mystery plants in my back yard since I've moved to the house that I'm living in now! Through various sources, I've been able to identify several of the many plants in my back yard but these continue to escape. I'm fairly confident that they were planted by the previous owner of the home as they seem like they were purposely planted here and don't seem like weeds.

The closest thing that I've found to these plants would be different types of okra but these pods are about twice the diameter and half the length of normal okra. Furthermore, they are very hairy with little white hairs! The plants themselves are roughly 5-6ft tall and are so tall and thin that they sometimes actually end up falling to the ground by themselves! They have very sparse flowers (1-2 per plant) and typically are at the top of the stalk. The flower is a very pale yellow without too much density to hold itself open, if that makes any sense!

Any help would be absolutely fantastic!

Thank you!!
 

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Hello and welcome to the Forum. What a special plant you have.

This is Sunset Musk-Mallow (Abelmoschus manihot), It is also known as Aibika, and is native to tropical Asia, Malesia, New Guinea, and Queensland. It is now grown widely in the tropics and sub-tropics. There are many different leaf forms of this species, some with broad leaf lobes and some with narrow ones like yours.

You're right, it is a relative of Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus). Both are in same genus. Sunset Musk-mallow is also edible like Okra. I understand that it is the leaves and tender shoots that are usually eaten.

I am curious. Does this plant grow as a perennial for you, or does it return each year from seed. If it over-winters, it must be a particularly hardy strain. Definitely worth propagating.
 
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Sorry for just now responding! Thank you for all of the great information! I'm definitely going to try to find some recipes to make (the few that I found look really good!

To answer your question, this is only the second summer that we have lived here, but they returned as perennials for us. They seemed to have died off late last fall (apparently not!) and then they returned earlier this summer!
 

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