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Okra - Fruit Vegetable

Okra

Abelmoschus Esculentus

Fruit Vegetable

Family : Malvaceae
Origin : Tropical Africa
Height : 3 to 6.5 feet (1 to 2 m)
Flowering : late spring
Properties : digestive, laxative, stomachic
     

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What is Okra

Okra arrived in Egypt, where the Pharaohs began to successfully cultivate it, from Africa. Later, it spread to tropical and subtropical Asia and America where it is still grown today.

It is an herbaceous, annual plant with long, ramified, erect stems. Its alternate, very lobed leaves, which are smooth on top and hairy underneath, have a long petiole. Its splendid solitary flowers, measuring about 3 inches (8 cm) in diameter, appear on the ends of superior leaves. They are generally yellow, sometimes white or reddish, like those of the Syrian Okra, with a violet-blue center. They render an edible fruit or pod, hairy at the base which is a capsule, measuring about 4 to 10 inches (10-25 cm) in length, that contains numerous oval, dark colored seeds. This fruit has a sweet, delicate flavor.

Okra is grown from seed at a minimum temperature of 590F (150C). Once the pods have been harvested, the seeds are sown on plain soil. Harvesting is done while the fruit is still tender and unripe, because ripe okra is very fibrous with several hard grains which are not pleasant to the palate. To preserve the fruit, it is dried in the sun and later pickled or frozen. Okra is rich in mucilage, vitamins, and mineral salts. Due to its high mucilage content, it is recommended for weight loss and stomach problems. Its roots are used in the manufacture of paper.

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