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Abelmoschus ficulneus (L.) Wight & Arn.

Prodr. Fl. Ind. Orient. 1: 53 (1834).
Chromosome number
2n = 72
Hibiscus ficulneus L. (1753).
Vernacular names
Native rosella (En). Ketmie faux ficus (Fr).
Origin and geographic distribution
Abelmoschus ficulneus occurs in tropical Africa (including Madagascar), Asia and Australia. In tropical Africa it has a scattered distribution. It occurs mostly in East Africa from Sudan, Eritrea and Somalia southward to Zambia and Mozambique. In West and Central Africa it is reported for Niger, northern Nigeria and Chad.
The stem yields a white fibre used for twine and light cordage. The green stem produces a mucilaginous extract which is an efficient clarifier of sugar-cane syrup. In Egypt the plant is cultivated as a vegetable. The fruits are edible, and in Sudan both the fruits and the leaves are eaten in times of food scarcity. The seeds are used in Arabia to improve the taste of coffee.
Leaves crushed with salted water are used in Indonesia against diarrhoea. In India a decoction of the crushed fresh root is taken to treat calcium deficiency. In case of a scorpion bite, the root is crushed in a glass of water and drunk, while root paste is applied on the area of the sting.
Fibre bundles in transverse section are squarish to radially elongated, widely spaced with cells compactly arranged. Reports on the quality of the fibre of Abelmoschus ficulneus from India are contradictory.
Per 100 g dry matter the seed contains 14 g fat and 20–25 g protein. The main fatty acids in the seed oil are: palmitic acid 27–32%, oleic acid 23–32% and linoleic acid 10–42%. The oil also contains malvalic acid and sterculic acid, which are known to cause abnormal physiological reactions in animals. The essential amino acid composition of the seed protein is: lysine 7.1%, methionine 2.8%, phenylalanine 6.8%, threonine 2.8%, valine 5.9%, leucine 6.5% and isoleucine 3.4%. Fruits are rich in vitamin C, with a content of 38 mg per 100 g fresh material.
Annual herb up to 2 m tall; stem thick, glabrous to densely glandular pubescent. Leaves alternate, simple stellate hairy; stipules linear or filiform, 5–12 mm long, hirsute; petiole 2–21 cm long, hairy; blade orbicular, deeply 3–5-lobed, up to 16 cm Χ 16 cm, cordate at base, lobes subacute to broadly rounded, margin serrate, scabrous on both sides. Flowers bisexual, regular, solitary in leaf axils or in a terminal raceme; pedicel 0.5–2.0(–2.5) cm long, expanded and cup-shaped apically; epicalyx bracts 5–6, linear to lanceolate, up to 12 mm Χ 2 mm, rough, caducous before expansion of corolla; calyx 17–23 mm long, 5-toothed, tomentellous; petals 5, obovate, 2–3.5 cm Χ 1.5–3 cm, uniformly white, turning pink; stamens many, filaments united in a column 1–1.5 cm long, glabrous; ovary superior, 5-celled. Fruit an ellipsoid capsule 3–4 cm Χ 1.5–2 cm, puberulous to pubescent; valves acute to aristate with up to 3 mm long awns. Seeds globose, 3–4 mm in diameter, black, with concentric lines, glabrous or with stellate or long crisped hairs.
Abelmoschus comprises about 6 species in Africa, Asia and Australia. It was previously included within Hibiscus. Species delimitation within the genus is based on number, dimensions and persistence of the involucral bracts, indumentum traits, and shape and dimensions of capsules. Abelmoschus ficulneus is possibly one of the parental species of the important vegetable Abelmoschus esculentus (L.) Moench., the other being Abelmoschus tuberculatus Pal & H.B.Singh. Abelmoschus ficulneus is sometimes confused with Abelmoschus esculentus.
Abelmoschus ficulneus occurs from near sea level up to 1350 m altitude in areas with a pronounced dry season, usually in grassland, bushland, fallows or as a weed in cultivated land. It also occurs in water-logged soils near rivers.
Fusarium chlamydosporum was found to cause stem canker in most Abelmoschus species including Abelmoschus ficulneus. The plant is susceptible to yellow vein mosaic virus in Sri Lanka.
Genetic resources and breeding
There are no reports of the genetic resources of the species being threatened. However, accessions of Abelmoschus ficulneus are available in only a few gene banks. Some collections were reported in Sudan and India. Experiments have indicated that Abelmoschus ficulneus does not cross with Abelmoschus manihot Medik. and Abelmoschus esculentus.
Abelmoschus ficulneus is of mostly local importance in tropical Africa and is likely to remain so. It is probably undercollected in West and Central Africa.
Major references
• Burkill, H.M., 1997. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 4, Families M–R. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 969 pp.
• Maiti, R.K., 1979. A study of the microscopic structure of the fiber strands of common Indian bast fibers and its economic implications. Economic Botany 33(1): 78–87.
• Sinha, S. & Osman, S.M., 1982. Fatty acid composition of Hibiscus ficulneus seed oil. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 33(10): 1010–1012.
• Sundar Rao, K., Pantulu, A.J. & Lakshminarayana, G., 1983. Analysis of Calotropis gigantea, Acacia caesia, and Abelmoschus ficulneus seeds. Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society 60(7): 1259–1261.
• Verdcourt, B. & Mwachala, G.M., 2009. Malvaceae. In: Beentje, H.J. & Ghazanfar, S.A. (Editors). Flora of Tropical East Africa. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 169 pp.
Other references
• El Tahir, I.M., 1991. Okra genetic resources in Sudan. Report of an international workshop on okra genetic resources held at the National Bureau for Plant Genetic Resources, New Delhi, India, 8–12 October 1990. International Crop Network Series No 5. IBPGR, Rome, Italy. pp. 34 35.
• Fugro, P.A. & Jadhav, N.V., 2003. Stem canker of okra in Konkan region of Maharashtra. Journal of Mycology and Plant Pathology 33(2): 288–289.
• Grosvenor, P.W., Gothard, P.K., McWilliam, N.C., Supriono, A. & Gray, D.O., 1995. Medicinal plants from Riau Province, Sumatra, Indonesia. Part I: uses. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 45(2): 75–95.
• Jagtap, S.D., Deokule, S.S. & Bhosle, S.V., 2006. Some unique ethnomedicinal uses of plants used by the Korku tribe of Amravati district of Maharashtra, India. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 107(3): 463–469.
• Pal, B.P., Singh, H.B. & Swarup, V., 1952. Taxonomic relationships and breeding possibilities of species of Abelmoschus related to okra (A. esculentus). Botanical Gazette 113(4): 455–464.
• Samarajeewa, P.K. & Rathnayaka, R.M.U.S.K., 2004. Disease resistance and genetic variation of wild relatives of okra (Abelmoschus esculentus L.). Annals of the Sri Lanka Department of Agriculture 6: 167–176.
• Schippers, R.R., 2000. African indigenous vegetables. An overview of the cultivated species. Natural Resources Institute/ACP-EU Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation, Chatham, United Kingdom. 214 pp.
• Siemonsma, J.S., 1991. Abelmoschus: a taxonomical and cytogenetical overview. In: IBPGR. Report of an international workshop on okra genetic resources, held at the National Bureau for Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), New Delhi, India, 8–12 October 1990. International Crop Network Series 5. International Board for Plant Genetic Resources (IBPGR), Rome, Italy. pp. 52–68.
• Singh, B., Rai, M., Kalloo, G., Satpathy, S. & Pandey, K.K., 2007. Wild taxa of okra (Abelmoschus species): reservoir of genes for resistance to biotic stresses. Acta Horticulturae 752: 323–328.
• Vollesen, K., 1995. Malvaceae. In: Edwards, S., Mesfin Tadesse & Hedberg, I. (Editors). Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Volume 2, part 2. Canellaceae to Euphorbiaceae. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Department of Systematic Botany, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. pp. 190–256.
• E.G. Achigan Dako
PROTA Network Office Africa, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), P.O. Box 30677-00100, Nairobi, Kenya

• M. Brink
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
• E.G. Achigan Dako
PROTA Network Office Africa, World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), P.O. Box 30677-00100, Nairobi, Kenya
Photo editor
• G.H. Schmelzer
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
Achigan-Dako, E.G., 2010. Abelmoschus ficulneus (L.) Wight & Arn. In: Brink, M. & Achigan-Dako, E.G. (Editors). Prota 16: Fibres/Plantes ΰ fibres. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
Abelmoschus ficulneus

Abelmoschus ficulneus

Abelmoschus ficulneus