Okra (Hibiscus esculentus, or Abelmoschus esculentus).—Derek Fell
Herbaceous, hairy, annual plant (Hibiscus esculentus or Abelmoschus esculentus), of the mallow family, grown for its edible fruit. Okra leaves are deeply notched; flowers are yellow with a crimson centre. The fruit, or pod, is a tapering, 10-angled capsule 4–10 in. (10–25 cm) long. Only the tender, unripe fruit is eaten; it is prepared in a number of ways and is a defining ingredient of the gumbos of the southern U.S. Because of its large amount of mucilage (a gelatinous substance), okra is used to thicken broths. In some countries the seeds are used as a substitute for coffee.