Simply called by the common name of Aibeka, Abelmoschus manihot is a tropical to sub tropical plant that is grown for the leaves that are eaten fresh, however usually cooked.
The plant is originally from New Guinea and other tropical Asian areas, however it is finding its way into vegetable gardens around the world.
It is a vegetable and it grows in wet conditions. In warmer climates it is grown as a perennial, in cooler climates it can be grown as an annual.
It is valued for being very high in vitamins especially A and C as well as Iron.
It is mainly the leaves that are eaten, however the very young shoot are also used.
Often used in soups, Aibeka is usually cooked with coconut milk in curries along with turmeric, chicken and the usual ingredients.
t is also used to make a medicinal tea.
This is a plant that must have a combination of warmth and damp to wet soils.
It grows well in full sun in tropical climates, in hotter dry areas it is best grown in light shade.
The easiest method of propagation is from stem cuttings that struck very easily.
It is a plant that will self seed, and it does have the potential to become a little weedy in the right conditions.
- Botanical Name – Abelmoschus manihot, syn. Hibiscus manihot
- Common Name – Aibeka, Lettuce Tree, Belle, also known as Tororo aoi in Japan.
- Position – Full sun.
- Soil – Naturally found along waterways, however grows in areas well away from waterways as well.
- Height – To 2 metres in height.
- Spread – Clumping.
- Flowers – Pale yellow discus like flowers
- Foliage – Mid green, textured, heavily lobbed to slightly lobbed depending on variety..
- Flowering time – December through January.
- Foliage – Green.
- Drought tolerant – No
Still hard to find in Australia, you may see it for sale at farmers markets around Cairns to northern New South wales.