Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus Moench), also known as ladies fingers or gumbo) is a flowering plant in the mallow family.
It is valued for its edible green seed pods.
Originating in Africa, the plant is cultivated in tropical, subtropical and warm temperate regions around the world.
The species is an annual or perennial, growing to 2 m tall.
It is related to such species as cotton, cocoa, and hibiscus.
The leaves are 10–20 cm long and broad, palmately lobed with 5–7 lobes.
The flowers are 4–8 cm diameter, with five white to yellow petals, often with a red or purple spot at the base of each petal.
The fruit is a capsule up to 18 cm long, containing numerous seeds.
- Okra is cultivated throughout the tropical and warm temperate regions of the world for its fibrous fruits or pods containing round, white seeds.
It is among the most heat and drought tolerant vegetable species in the world, but severe frost can damage the pods.
Okra will tolerate poor soils with heavy clay and intermittent moisture.
In cultivation, the seeds are soaked overnight prior to planting to a depth of 1–2 cm.
Germination occurs between six days (soaked seeds) and three weeks.
Seedlings require ample water.
The seed pods rapidly become fibrous and woody and must be harvested within a week of the fruit being pollinated to be edible.
The fruits are harvested when immature and eaten as a vegetable.