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Abelmoschus caillei

(West African okra)

Common Names

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Common Names in English:

West African okra


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Family Malvaceae

Herbs, shrubs , or less often trees ; indumentum usually with peltate scales or stellate hairs . Leaves alternate, stipulate , petiolate ; leaf blade usually palmately veined, entire or various lobed . Flowers solitary, less often in small cymes or clusters , axillary or subterminal , often aggregated into terminal racemes or panicles, usually conspicuous , actinomorphic , usually bisexual (unisexual in Kydia) . Epicalyx often present, forming an involucre around calyx, 3- to many lobed. Sepals 5, valvate , free or connate . Petals 5, free, contorted, or imbricate, basally adnate to base of filament tube . Stamens usually very many, filaments connate into tube; anthers 1-celled. Pollen spiny . Ovary superior, with 2-25 carpels, often separating from one another and from axis; ovules 1 to many per locule; style as many or 2 × as many as pistils, apex branched or capitate. Fruit a loculicidal capsule or a schizocarp, separating into individual mericarps, rarely berrylike when mature (Malvaviscus) ; carpels sometimes with an endoglossum (a crosswise projection from back wall of carpel to make it almost completely septate . Seeds often reniform , glabrous or hairy , sometimes conspicuously so.

About 100 genera and ca. 1000 species: tropical and temperate regions of N and S Hemisphere; 19 genera (four introduced ) and 81 species (24 endemic, 16 introduced) in China.

Molecular studies have shown that the members of the Bombacaceae, Malvaceae, Sterculiaceae, and Tiliaceae form a very well-defined monophyletic group that is divided into ten also rather well-defined clades, only two of which correspond to the traditional families Bombacaceae and Malvaceae. Some of the remaining groups are included entirely within either of the remaining families but others cut across the traditional divide between the Sterculiaceae and Tiliaceae. A majority of authors , most notably Bayer and Kubitzki (Fam. Gen. Vasc. Pl. 5: 225-311. 2003), has favored including everything within a greatly enlarged Malvaceae, and treating the individual clades as subfamilies. The alternative view is that the individual clades should be treated as a series of ten families: Bombacaceae (Bombacoideae), Brownlowiaceae (Brownlowioideae), Byttneriaceae (Byttnerioideae), Durionaceae (Durionoideae), Helicteraceae (Helicteroideae), Malvaceae (Malvoideae), Pentapetaceae (Dombeyoideae), Sparrmanniaceae (Grewioideae), Sterculiaceae (Sterculioideae), and Tiliaceae (Tilioideae) (Cheek in Heywood et al. , Fl. Pl. Fam. World. 201-202. 2007) . For the present treatment, we prefer to retain the familiar, traditional four families, so as to maintain continuity with the treatments in FRPS, and to await a consensus on the two alternative strategies for dealing with the very widely accepted clades.

The traditional Malvaceae coincides exactly with one of the major clades. The only possible problem is the relationship with the Bombacaceae, which also has primarily 1-loculed anthers, and some authorities have suggested that the Bombacaceae should be included within the Malvaceae.

Members of the Malvaceae are important as fiber crops (particularly cotton, Gossypium) . Young leaves of many species can be used as vegetables, and species of Abelmoschus and Hibiscus are grown as minor food crops. Many species have attractive flowers and an ever-increasing selection is grown as ornamentals . Several have been cultivated for a very long time, particularly species of Hibiscus, and some of these are not known in the wild.[1]

Genus Abelmoschus

Herbs annual , biennial, or perennial , often hispid or tomentose , hairs often mostly simple . Leaves entire or palmately lobed . Flowers solitary, axillary , yellow or red. Epicalyx lobes 5-15, filiform , very rarely lanceolate, persistent . Calyx spathaceous , splitting along 1 side at anthesis , apex 5-toothed, caducous with corolla. Corolla with a dark red center, funnel-shaped; petals 5. Staminal column shorter than corolla, 5-toothed at apex, with anthers at base . Ovary 5-loculed; ovule many per locule; style single with 5 sessile capitate stigmas. Capsule elongate , loculicidal, pubescent or hispid. Seeds reniform or globose , many, glabrous , smooth .

About 15 species: tropical and subtropical regions in E Hemisphere; six species (one endemic, one introduced ) in China.[2]


Typically found at an altitude of 0 to 569 meters (0 to 1,867 feet).[3]


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Basionym : Malvaceae Hibiscus manihot L. var. caillei

Basionym author: (A.Chev.)

Similar Species

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Members of the genus Abelmoschus

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 69 species, subspecies, varieties, forms, and cultivars in this genus:

A. caillei (West African Okra) · A. esculentus (Fingers Ladies) · A. esculentus 'Alabama Red' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Annie Oakley' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Annie Oakley Ii' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Arabica' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Aunt Hettie's Red' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Baby Bubba' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Beck's Big Buck Horn' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Big'un' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Blondie' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Burmese' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Cajun Delight' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Cajun Jewel' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Clemson Spineless' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Cowhorn' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Cowhorn 22' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Dad Speegle's Special' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Emerald' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Evertender' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Ever Lucky' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'F696' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'F715' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Fife Creek Cowhorn' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Greennie' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Green Best' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Green Energy' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Green Glory' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Green Jewel' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Green Power' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Hill Country Heirloom Red' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Indiana' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Jade' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Jakkawad' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'James Hopper' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Jet' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Jimmy T' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Jing Orange' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Joy' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Jubilee' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Kakuhou' (Ornamental Okra) · A. esculentus 'Lee' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Lima' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Little Lucy' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Lomax' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Louisiana Green Velvet' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Lousiana Short' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Lucky Five' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Mac Green' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Mexicana' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'My Joanie' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Okrazilla' (Ornamental Okra) · A. esculentus 'Pentagreen' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Penta Dragon' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Perkins Mammoth Long Pod' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Pure Luck' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Puso' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Red Burgundy' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Red Okra' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Silver Queen' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Sok 6101' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'South Sea' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Star of David' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Stubby' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Top Gun' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'Volta' (Okra) · A. esculentus 'White Velvet' (Okra) · A. moschatus (Ambrette) · A. moschatus 'Mischief' (Ambrette)

More Info

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Further Reading

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Data Sources

Accessed through GBIF Data Portal March 14, 2008:



  1. Ya Tang, Michael G. Gilbert & Laurence J. Dorr "Malvaceae". in Flora of China Vol. 12 Page 240, 264,299, 302. Published by Science Press (Beijing) and Missouri Botanical Garden Press. Online at [back]
  2. "Abelmoschus". in Flora of China Vol. 12 Page 264, 283, 286. Published by Science Press (Beijing) and Missouri Botanical Garden Press. Online at [back]
  3. Mean = 292.800 meters (960.630 feet), Standard Deviation = 134.040 based on 46 observations. Altitude information for each observation from British Oceanographic Data Centre. [back]
Last Revised: 2014-05-10