Abelmoschus tetraphyllus (PROSEA)

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Plant Resources of South-East Asia
List of species

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

Family: Malvaceae


Abelmoschus manihot (L.) Medik. subsp. tetraphyllus (Roxb. ex Hornem.) Borss., A. 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 × 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 × 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. A. 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. A. tetraphyllus is considered by some as a subspecies of A. manihot (L.) Medik., comprising the wild forms of the species. A. 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, 65, 66, 95, 155, 160, 189.


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