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Record Number


PROSEA Handbook Number

17: Fibre plants


Abelmoschus tetraphyllus (Roxb. ex Hornem.) R. Graham




Abelmoschus manihot (L.) Medik. subsp. tetraphyllus (Roxb. ex Hornem.) Borss., Abelmoschus pungens (Roxb.) Voigt, Hibiscus tetraphyllus Roxb. ex Hornem.

Vernacular Names

Philippines: annabo-a-daddakel (Ilokano). Thailand: po faai (northern), po kaeo (Phrae, Petchabun).


From Pakistan to northern Australia and southern China. Elsewhere it has been introduced and in some places it has naturalized (e.g. in Mexico). It is cultivated in India.


White fibres from the bark are used for making ropes (the Philippines, India). Chewed seeds, applied to the site of the bite, are said to be effective against snake-poison (Mexico). Medicinal properties of leaves and roots have also been recorded.


A shrub, 2—3 m tall. Stem erect, woody, branching, covered with prickly hairs. Leaves simple, alternate, very variable in shape, size and colour; stipules filiform or lanceolate, 5—12 mm long; petiole 3—25 cm long; blade linear, lanceolate, cordate, deeply lobed or parted with 3—7 segments. Flowers large, bell-shaped, 7—15 cm in diameter, axillary, solitary or in racemes; pedicel 1—5(—7) cm long; epicalyx segments 4—6(—8), free, ovate to oblong, 1—3 cm x 0.5—1 cm; calyx spathaceous, 2—3 cm long, splitting on one side, adnate to and falling with the corolla; corolla consisting of 5 large, obovate to orbicular petals, 3—8 cm in diameter, pale yellow with dark brown or reddish central spot; ovary superior, 5-celled; style surrounded by staminal column, 5-lobed; staminal column up to 3 cm long, white. Fruit an oblong-ovoid capsule, 3.5—6 cm x 2—2.5 cm, hairy, usually 5-angled and splitting into 5 segments, with numerous seeds. Seed spherical to reniform, 2—4 mm in diameter, black. Abelmoschus tetraphyllus occurs up to 1600 m altitude, particularly in areas with seasonal rainfall. It is mainly found in secondary vegetation, waste places, clearings and fallowed land. Abelmoschus tetraphyllus is considered by some as a subspecies of Abelmoschus manihot (L.) Medik., comprising the wild forms of the species. Abelmoschus manihot subsp. manihot comprises the cultivated forms which are used as a green vegetable, but which are better classified as a cultivar group.

Selected Sources

[19]Brown, W.H., 1951—1957. Useful plants of the Philippines. Reprint of the 1941—1947 edition. 3 volumes. Technical Bulletin 10. Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Bureau of Printing, Manila, the Philippines. Vol. 1 (1951) 590 pp.,
[65]Hamon, S. & van Sloten, D.H., 1995. Okra. In: Smartt, J. & Simmonds, N.W. (Editors): Evolution of crop plants. 2nd Edition. Longman, Harlow, United Kingdom. pp. 350—357.
[66]Hanelt, P. & Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (Editors), 2001. Mansfeld's encyclopedia of agricultural and horticultural crops (except ornamentals). 1st English edition. 6 volumes. Springer Verlag, Berlin, Germany. 3645 pp.
[95]Kubitzki, K., 1970. Die Gattung Tetracera (Dilleniaceae) [The genus Tetracera (Dilleniaceae)]. Mitteilungen der Botanischen Staatssammlung München 8: 1—98.
[155]Siemonsma, J.S. & Kasem Piluek (Editors), 1993. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 8. Vegetables. Pudoc Scientific Publishers, Wageningen, the Netherlands. 412 pp.
[160]Smitinand, T., 1980. Thai plant names. Royal Forest Department, Bangkok, Thailand. 379 pp.
[189]van Borssum Waalkes, J., 1966. Malesian Malvaceae revised. Blumea 14(1): 1—213.


M.Brink, P.C.M. Jansen & C.H. Bosch

Correct Citation of this Article

Brink, M., Jansen, P.C.M. & Bosch, C.H., 2003. Abelmoschus tetraphyllus (Roxb. ex Hornem.) R. Graham. In: Brink, M and Escobin, R.P. (Editors): Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 17: Fibre plants. PROSEA Foundation, Bogor, Indonesia. Database record:

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