Abelmoschus moschatus Medik.

Last updated: 22 April 2016

Scientific Name

Abelmoschus moschatus Medik.


Abelmoschus abelmoschus (L.), H.Karst. [Invalid], Abelmoschus betulifolia Wall., Abelmoschus chinensis Wall, Abelmoschus ciliaris Walp, Abelmoschus cryptocarpus Walp, Abelmoschus cubensis Walp, Abelmoschus cucurbitaceus Walp, Abelmoschus haenkeanus C.Presl, Abelmoschus marianus C.Presl, Abelmoschus palustris Walp, Abelmoschus pseudoabelmoschus (Blume) Walp, Abelmoschus roseus Walp, Abelmoschus sublobatus C.Presl, Hibiscus abelmoschus L., Hibiscus collinsianus Nutt. ex Torr. A. Gray, Hibiscus moschatus (Medik.) Salisb. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Kapas hantu, kapas Hutan, gandapura [2][3][4]
English Musk mallow, musk okra, ambrette, mushkdana [2][3][4]
India Gandapura, latakasturikam, zatakasturika (Sanskrit); mushk-dana, kasturi-dana (Hindi & Bengali); mishkdana, mushk-bhendi (Bombay); kasturi, benda-vittulu, karpuri-benda (Telagu); kattakasturi (Malayalam); vittilai-kasturi; kasturivendaik-kayvirai (Tamil); kabu-kasturi, kon, kasturi-bhendo [2][3][4]
Indonesia Gandapura, kasturi, kakapasan [2][3][4]
Thailand Gandapura, kasturi, kakapasan [2][3][4]
Philippines Dalupang, kastuli, kastiokastiokan [2][3][4]
Saudi Arabia Hubb-ul-mushk, abu-el-mosk, abu-el-misk [2][3][4]
Mexico Algaria, café extranjero, dona Elvira [2][3][4]
France Ambrette, ketmie musquee [2][3][4]
Portugal Abelmosco, ambarino [2][3][4]
Germany Abelmoschus-samen, ambramalve, ambrette, bisakorner, muskateller-eibisch [2][3][4]
Spain Abelmosco, algalia, ambarcillo, ambarina, café extrajero [2][3][4].

Geographical Distributions

Abelmoschus moschatus occurs from India to southern China including Hainan and Taiwan and through South-East Asia to northern Australia and the Pacific. In Malaysia it is common in the more humid areas, rare in the Lesser Sunda Islands and southern Papua New Guinea, lacking in the south-eastern Moluccas. It is cultivated commercially in Java, India (mainly in the Deccan and Carnatic), Madagascar and in parts of Central and South America. On a small scale it is cultivated and occasionally occurs as a weed throughout the tropics and in warm temperate areas. [2]

Botanical Description

A. moschatus is a member of the Malvaceae family. It is an erect herb or subshrubs, usually annual or short-lived perennial reaching up to 4 m high. [5]

The stems are mostly hispid-pubescent with appressed whitish hairs to measurement about 3-4mm long, solid or hollow. [5]

The leaves are variable, hastate, grows up to 30cm long and broad, shallowly to deeply 3 to 7 lobed, the divisions deltoid to oblong lanceolate, coarsely serrate, dentate to crenate, and apices acute to acuminate, rarely obtuse, leaf-bases cordate or sagittate. [5]

The petiole measures 20cm long, stipules linear to filiform, measures to 1 cm long. [5]

The flowers are solitary, bisexual, in upper axils, on apically expanded pedicels, at first, measuring 2-4 cm long, in flower; extending to 12-19 cm in fruit. The involucral bracts are 6-10 in number, linear to subulate or lanceolate, measuring 9-15 mm long and 1-2.5 mm broad, appressed, persistent in fruit. The calyx caduceus measures 1.8-3.5 cm long and 5-toothed at apex. The corolla is yellow in colour with a deep purple or crimson spot at base; petals asymmetrical, obovate, measuring 7-9 cm long, cilliate at base. The staminal column measures about 2.5-3 cm long. The capsule dry, 5-valved, thin-walled, ovoid to fusiform, apiculate, measuring 5-8 cm long and 2-3 cm broad, terete to slightly 5-angles, usually hispid, dark brown to blackish in colour. [5]

The seeds ovoid, reniform, measures 3-4 mm long, concentrically striate-pubescent, especially around the hilum, grayish-brown to black in colour, with an oily musky taste and a musky odour when rubbed. [5]


Soil Suitability and Climate Requirement

Abelmoschus moschatus can grow in a variety of places, e.g. roadsides, brushwood, fallow land, and on the bunds of rice fields. In the tropics it occurs up to 1650 m altitude in Indonesia, while in India it is cultivated up to 1000 m. Abelmoschus moschatus requires a humid tropical or subtropical climate, although heavy and continuous rain affects crop growth negatively. The optimum temperature for vegetative growth is about 20-28°C, but it can tolerate temperatures up to 45°C. Frost is not tolerated. It is day length sensitive, short days promoting early flowering. Flowering is also stimulated by low night temperatures. During flowering and fruiting dry weather is preferred. Abelmoschus moschatus thrives in fertile loamy or sandy-loamy soil. Growth is often poor on clay and sandy soils and on saline or strongly alkaline soils. Waterlogging is not tolerated. Subsp. biakensis grows near beaches, subsp. tuberosus prefers locations with an annual dry period and where the vegetation is periodically burnt. [2]

Field Preparation

Land Preparation

Abelmoschus moschatus is propagated by seed. It requires a fine but compact seedbed for uniform germination. In India about 5 kg/ha of seed are used for sowing in rows spaced 75-90 cm apart. When the seed is dibbled at a spacing of 90 cm x 90 cm, 1-1.5 kg/ha is needed. Soaking the seed in water overnight accelerates germination. Seed is sown 1-2 cm deep. Under favourable conditions, germination starts 4-15 days after sowing and is complete after 15-30 days. The optimum temperature for germination is about 30°C. The germination rate of good commercial seed is about 85%. In row planting, thinning is required; in India it is done to about 60 cm, in China to 45-50 cm between plants. [2]

Field maintenance

Abelmoschus moschatus needs to be weeded 2-3 times during early growth. Later, the superficial root system may be damaged by hoeing. In northern India where lush vegetative growth often leads to poor fruit set, pruning 50-60 days after transplanting tended to increase seed yield by about 40%. Earlier pruning was not beneficial. In a fertilizer trial in India on a sandy loam poor in P and rich in K, seed yield increased from 0.5 to 1.2 t/ha in response to an application of 120 kg N/ha, while a yield of 1.5 t/ha was obtained with 120 kg N/ha in combination with 35 kg P/ha [2]

Pest and Disease Control

Abelmoschus moschatus suffers from several diseases, the most important being Hibiscus mosaic virus (HMV), anthracnose and leaf spot. Plants infected with HMV should be uprooted and destroyed as there is no other effective control. Anthracnose, caused by Colletotrichum hibisci, affects all plant parts and may start in the seedling stage. Seed treatment and spraying with fungicides, e.g. Bordeaux mixture, can control the disease. Alternaria leaf spot and Phytophthora leaf blight can cause damage, the latter especially under humid conditions. Seed treatment can reduce losses. In India, spotted bollworm (Earias insulana) attacks the crop during vegetative growth and the fruiting stage. Infested shoots turn brown above the point of infestation, bend down and die. Fruits are also affected. Preventive spraying with thiodan at 10-15 day intervals from the seedling stage until harvesting effectively controls the pest, but is rarely practised by small farmers. Pink bollworm (Pectinophora gossipialla) causes some damage to pods and seeds in northern India. A cotton semilooper (Anomis flava) is observed in India during the rainy season, the intensity of attack decreases as temperatures become lower, and the pest disappears in mid-November. [2]


In India fruit sets continuously from October to April. As mature pods open and shatter their seed, several picking rounds are needed. Harvesting starts when most pods begin to turn from green to brown and just start to open. Pods are picked when three-quarters of their body has turned blackish-brown; the seed is removed manually. Picking is an arduous task as the plants, including the pods, possess hairs that cause itching. In India harvesting has often stopped by the end of February, as later harvesting rounds yield too little to be economical. [2]

Postharvest handling

After drying in the shade, the pods are mostly threshed by being beaten with sticks. The husk is then removed by winnowing. Steam distillation of whole seed yields ambrette seed oil, while distillation of ground seed and hydrocarbon extraction of ground seed produces ambrette seed concrete, largely consisting of palmitic and myristic acids, which are unstable and odourless. Ambrette seed absolute is prepared from the seed concrete either by neutralization and subsequent elimination of fatty acids or by steam distillation of the concrete followed by washing with alcohol. [2]

Estimated cost of production

No documentation

Chemical Constituent

A. moschatus has been reported to contain 5-dodecenyl-acetate, 5-tetradecen-14-olide, 5-tetradecenyl-acetate, acetic-acid, alpha-cephalin, ambrettol, ambrettolic-acid, ambrettolide(=7-hexadecen-16-olide), decyl-acetate, decyl-alcohol, farnesol, fat, furfural, kaempferol, kaempferol-3-0-glucoside, methionine-sulfoxide, mucilage, myricicetin, myricicetin-3'-glucoside, myristic-acid, palmitic-acid, phosphatidyl-serine, phosphatidylcholine-plasmalogen, phosphatidylserine-plasmalogen, pineol, protein, quercetin, and quercetin-3'-glucoside. [6]

Plant Part Used

Seeds, roots and leaves [3][5][6][7]

Traditional Use

A. moschatus seeds are considered antihysteric, antineurotic, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, carminative, diuretic, litholytic, stimulant, stomachic, and tonic. In the Philippines, A. moschatus is used in the treatment of stomach cancer. In India, it is used effectively to treat intestinal complaints, stomatitis, dyspepsia, allay thirst and checks vomiting. [5][7]

It has been reported that in Trinidad, they used the seeds steeped in rum or water for asthma, chest congestion and cold. The powdered seeds are inhaled for dryness and hoarseness of the throat. A paste of pulverized seeds with milk is used to treat leucoderma, prickly heat and itch. Powdered seeds in alcohol are applied on venomous bites. [3][5]

The roots and leaves are made into poultices to treat boils, cystitis and fever. For the treatment of urinary discharge and gonorrhoea some use the seeds while others used a decoction of the leaves and roots. The seeds are included in compound medicine for the treatment of other venereal diseases. Poultices of roots and leaves are useful for headache, rheumatism, swellings and varicose veins. The seed is considered an aphrodisiac and it is used also in cases of spermatorrhoea. In infusion, decoction or tincture the seeds are used in a number of nervous disorders including nervous debility and hysteria. [2][3][5][6][7]

Preclinical Data


Antidiabetic activity

The preliminary study on myricetin isolated from the aerial part of A. moschatus proved that it has antidiabetic activity which is attributed to its ability to enhance utlization of glucose. Further investigations showed that myrecitn not only lowered plasma glucose levels within 30 minutes of bolus administration but it also increases plasma beta-endorphin-like immunoreactivity. These effects were eliminated after bilateral adrenalectomy and after treatment with opioid mu-receptor antagonist and in opioid mu-receptor knockout diabetic mice. Chronic use of the drug for three days resulted in increased expression of the glucose transported subtype 4 in soleus muscles and reduced expression of phoshoenolpyruvate carboxykinase in liver. It was concluded that the hypoglycaemic activity of myricetin is mediated by activation of opioid mu-receptors of the peripheral tissue in response to increased beta-endorphin secretion. It has been found that myricetin also improve insulin sensitivity through increase post-receptor insulin signaling mediated by enhancements in IRS-1- associated PI3-kinase and GLUT 4 activity in muscles. [8][9][10][11][12]

Skin protective activity

It has been found that seed extracts of A. moschatus was able to prevent natural degradation of FGF-2, thus, maintaining the bioavailability of heparan sulphate proteoglycans for its target cells i.e. skin fibroblast. The protected FGF-2 could in turn stimulate the synthesis of suphated GAG’s give a two-prong action for the extract. These effects were proven clinically via skin biomechanical properties and reduction of wrinkles studies. [13]


No documentation

Clinical Data

No documentation


No documentation

Poisonous Management

No documentation

Line drawing



Figure 1: The line drawing of Abelmoschus moschatus [2]


  1. The Plant List.  Ver1.1. Abelmoschus moschatus Medi. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2014 April 21]. Available from: http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-2609599
  2. Sri Hajati Widodo. Abelmoschus moschatus Medikus. In: Oyen LPA, Nguyen Xuan Dung, editors. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 19: Essential-oil plants. Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publisher, 1999; p. 57-60.
  3. Panda H. Handbook on medicinal herbs with uses. New Delhi: Asia Pacific Business Press, 2004; p. 2.
  4. Seidemann J. World spice plants: Economic usage, botany, taxonomy. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 2005; p. 1.
  5. Duke JA, DuCellier JL. CRC handbook of alternative cash crops. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 1993; p. 4-5.
  6. Dr Duke’s Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases. [homepage on the Internet] US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service; c1992-2016 [updated 2016 Aug 30; cited on 2016 August 19] Available from: https://phytochem.nal.usda.gov/phytochem/plants/show/3?qlookup=&offset=0&max=20&et=
  7. Peter KV, ed. Underutilized and underexploited horticultural crops. Volume New Delhi: New India Publishing, 2007; p. 212.
  8. Liu IM, Liou SS, Lan TW, Hsu FL, Cheng JT. Myricetin as the active principle of Abelmoschus moschatus to lower plasma glucose in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Planta Med. 2005;71(7):617-621.
  9. Liu IM, Liou SS, Cheng JT. Mediation of beta-endorphin by myricetin to lower plasma glucose in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2006;104(1-2):199-206.
  10. Liu IM, Tzeng TF, Liou SS. Improvement of insulin sensitivity in obese Zucker rats by myricetin extracted from Abelmoschus moschatus. Planta Med. 2007;73(10):1054-1060.
  11. Tzeng TF, Liou SS, Liu IM. Myricetin ameliorates defective post-receptor insulin signaling via β-endorphin signaling in the skeletal muscles of fructose-fed rats. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:150752.
  12. Liu IM, Tzeng TF, Liou SS. Abelmoschus moschatus (Malvaceae), an aromatic plant, suitable for medical or food uses to improve insulin sensitivity. Phytother Res. 2010;24(2):233-239.
  13. Rival D, Bonnet S et al. A Hibiscus Abelmoschus seed extract as a protective active ingredient to favour FGF-2 activity in skin. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2009;31(6):419-426.