Carew, H. John Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.
Last reviewed:January 2021
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A warm-season annual, Hibiscus esculentus (also Abelmoschus esculentus), of Ethiopian origin. Okra, also called gumbo, is grown for its immature pods (see illustration), which are used generally in the preparation of soups, but are also eaten as a freshly cooked vegetable. It is a member of the order Malvales and is related to cotton. Propagation is by seed. Popular varieties are Clemson Spineless and Green Velvet. Okra is sensitive to low temperatures. Harvesting begins when the pods are 7.5–10 cm (3–4 in.) in length, usually 50–60 days after planting. Commercial production in the United States is primarily in southern regions. Georgia, Florida, and Louisiana are important producing states. See also: Cotton; Malvales
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