Okra or Lady's Fingers (Abelmoschus esculentus)

Our Okra plants have started bearing fruits in this rainy season.

Although typically added in vegetable dishes, it's not unusual for us to eat the vegetable steamed. We simply top it on the steamed rice in the rice cooker. Add a little bagoong and a few drops of calamansi and you've got a dish.

Curiously, from stuartxchange.org, it is even considered a Philippine Medicinal Herb:
Coarse, erect, branched, annual herb, 0.6 to 1.5 meters hihgh. Leaves are long-petioled, orbicular or orbicular-ovate, about 25 cm long; heart-shaped base; margins, 3- to 5-lobed. Flowers are axillary and solitary; corolla, large and yellow, and inside, deep purple at the base. Fruit is elongated, 10-25 cm long, 1.5 - 3 cm in diameter, tapering to a blunt point and containing rows of rounded, kidney shaped seeds.

Medicinal Properties
Demulcent, emollient, sudorific, cooling, carminative, stimulang, cordial, antispasmodic

Cultivated for its edible fruit. Ubiquitous in market places.

Parts utilized
· Roots, leaves, young pods, seeds.

Contains vitamins A and C. A good source of iron and calcium. Also contains starch, fat, ash, thiamine and riboflavine.

· Decoction of roots and leaves as a tea or for washing.
· Decoction of young fruit useful for catarrh, urinary problems.
· Syrup from mucilaginous fruit used for sore throat.
· Poultice of roots and leaves for wound healing.
· Young pods for fevers, difficult urination and diarrhea.
· Decoction of roots for headaches, varicose veins, arthritis, fevers.
· Decoctions of leaves for abdominal pain.
· Leaves also useful as emollient poultice.
· Seeds used a coffee substitute. Paste of seeds, mixed with milk, used for pruritic skin lesions.

• Anti-ulcer: Anti-ulcerogenic activity of some plants used as folk remedy in Turkey: Five herbal remedies, including H esculentus, were studied for anti-ulcerogenic activity. All extracts exhibited significant gastroprotective effects.

• Glycosylated compounds from okra inhibit adhesion of Helicobacter pylori to human gastric mucosa: A polysaccharide isolated from the fresh juice showed strong inhibitory effects and an antiadhesive activity with blocking of the Helicobacter surface receptors.
• Antioxidant / Hepatoprotective: Antioxidant and hepatoprotective effect of the roots of Hibiscus esculentus Linn: The ethanol extract of HE roots showed excellent scavenging effect on free radicals and hepatoprotective effects.

Perennial market produce.

On its cultivation, from physiology.wisc.edu:
Okra seeds are relatively large and easy to handle. They also germinate well if the soil is warm enough. Plant the seeds about half an inch deep, about three seeds at each spot. In most cases all three germinate, and when the plants are about six inches tall, thin them to only one plant every 18 inches.

Okra needs warm weather to grow well. This means that in northern climates you may not have much of a crop some years. The main thing you can do to help is to keep the bed weed free and mulched as much as possible. Watering is only needed occasionaly.

Most varieties will start yielding about 60 days after planting. The flowers are large, pale yellow and fairly ornamental. Each flower blooms for only one day and eventually forms one okra pod. Pick the pods when they are approx. 3 inches in length. Picking the pods while wet may darken the skin, though the taste is not affected. Typically it grows quickly, so you need to harvest every two days or so. The plants can eventually grow quite tall (5 feet or more), but will stop growing as soon as the temperature starts dropping down below 50 degs. (F).

Go ahead, post your comment below!

Corrine said...

I wonder my okras and eggplants are skinny. I've harvested a few but I wish they are as fat as yours. :(

Corrine said...

May I know where you buy your seeds? I bought P100 worth from Manila seedling bank. It's composed of seeds of different vegetables. I noticed that succeeding batches didn't produce good results as my first batch. I didn't sow all the seeds the first time. Maybe, the seeds also expire? The gap was only about two weeks. *sigh*

Blackdove said...

Corrine, for some vegetables, I don't buy seeds anymore. The okra and eggplant seeds were taken from a plant in our home province.

First, I select the best eggplant and okra fruit I can find. Then I let the fruit to ripen and over mature right on the plant until it dries. Then you can pick up the seeds and store them.

This way you can be sure that the seeds come from quality fruits with the genetic traits that you desire (big, long, sweet, juicy etc.). With store-bought seeds, you can't really tell where they came from, no matter what picture is shown on the seed packet. :)