Abelmoschus manihot (L.) Medikus

Abelmoschus manihot (L.) Medikus




Hibiscus manihot L., Abelmoschus manihot (L.) Medikus ssp. manihot.

Vernacular Names

English Aibika (Pidgin), sunset hibiscus.
Indonesia Gedi (Minahasa), degi (Ternate).
Papua New Guinea Aibika.
Philippines Lagikuway (Tagalog), barakue (Batanes), glikway (Subanon).
Thailand Po-fai (Northern).

Geographical Distributions

Abelmoschus manihot is a cultigen with a wide distribution. It is a popular traditional vegetable in Melanesia, but has also been introduced into other continents, either as a vegetable or as an ornamental (sunset 'hibiscus'). In Southeast Asia it is cultivated particularly in the eastern parts of Indonesia and in Papua New Guinea.


A. manihot is a perennial shrub that can grow 1-3(-7) m tall. The root system is usually adventitious and fairly shallow with most of the roots in the top of 30-40 cm of the soil. The stem is an erect, woody, branching and hairless or pubescent (without prickly hairs unlike related wild forms).

The leaves are simple, arranged alternate, extremely variable in shape, size, colour and pigmentation (or marking). The measure 5-12 mm long petiole is 3-25 cm long and with slender or lance-shaped stipules. The leaf-blade is linear, lance-shaped, cordate or deeply lobed or parted with 3-7 segments and with varies colour from light to dark green through red to purple in colour.

The flowers are large, bell-shaped, measure 7-15 cm in diametre, axillary, solitary or in racemes by the reduction or abortion of the upper leaves. The pedicel is 1-5(-7) cm long. The epicalyx segments are 4-6(-8), free, ovate to oblong in shape and with a size of measuring 1-3 cm x 0.5-1 cm. The sepal is spathaceous, measuring 2-3 cm long, splits on one side during the expansion of the petal, adnate to and falls with the petal. The corolla consists of 5 large and obovate to orbicular petals. They are measure 3-8 cm in diametre, pale yellow with a dark brown or reddish in colour at the central spot. The ovary is superior and 5-celled. The style is surrounded by the staminal column from which it emerges and divides into 5 lobes where each lobe ends in a flattened, disk-shaped and dark brown stigma. The staminal column is up measure to 3 cm long, white, bear numerous filaments and anthers.

The fruit is an oblong-ovoid capsule, measuring 3.5-6 cm x 2-2.5 cm, hairy, usually with 5-angled and splits into 5 segments.

The seeds are numerous, spherical to kidney-shaped, 2-4 mm in diametre and black in colour.

Ecology / Cultivation

A. manihot grows over a wide range of climates but in the tropics mainly occurs from the lowlands to 1200 m altitude. However, at high elevations, growth is slower. It requires well-distributed rainfall of at least 1200 mm/year for good production. A. manihot is sensitive to waterlogging and prefers well-drained loams with a pH of 5.5-7, but grows on a wide range of soils. Little is known about the eco-physiology of A. manihot, but there are indications that it behaves as a qualitative short-day plant. In Port Moresby (9°S), A. manihot flowers between July and November.

Line Drawing / Photograph



    1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 8: Vegetables.