Abelmoschus manihot

Common Name: sunset huskmallow  
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Malvaceae
Native Range: Southeastern Asia
Zone: 8 to 10
Height: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to frost
Bloom Description: Pale yellow with maroon eye
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Annual, Vegetable
Flower: Showy
Tolerate: Deer

Culture

Easily grown in moist, well-draining, loamy soils in full sun. Hardy in Zones 8-10, were it can be grown as a large perennial. Can be cut to the ground in winter and allowed to rejuvenate. In colder climates, can be used as an annual. Requires regular fertilization and irrigation for best performance. A fast grower, especially in ideal conditions. Can be propagated from seeds or cuttings.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Abelmoschus manihot, commonly called sunset muskmallow or edible hibiscus, is a large annual or perennial herb growing up to 6' tall and reaching 3' wide. A native of southeastern Asia where it grows in grasslands, stream banks, and disturbed sites. Its palmate leaves (6-11" in diameter) are highly dissected with five to nine deep lobes. The largest, widest leaves form at the base of the plant, where there may be some small side branches. The blooms (4-5" in diameter) are pale yellow with a dark maroon to purple center eye, and emerge from the terminal end of a central flowering stalk. Attractive to butterflies and other pollinators. The leaves of sunset muskmallow are edible, and impart a mucilaginous texture to dishes when cooked. Deer tend to avoid this plant.

Genus name is believed to come from the Arabic abu-l-mosk in reference to the smell of the seeds.

The specific epithet manihot refers to the genus Manihot.

The common name muskmallow refers to the seeds, which have a musky odor and have been used in perfumery.

Problems

This plant is closely related to okra (Abelmoschus esculentus), and is susceptible to similar pests including aphids, slugs, and white flies.

Garden Uses

A nice flowering addition to the vegetable garden. Does well in containers. Can add a tropical flare to sunny mixed borders, but will spread from seed.