Recognize this large and delicate yellow-colored flower that can stand even triple-digit heat?

July 24th, 2008
Abelmoschus esculentus

Sometimes gardeners need to be a little pretentious. Juliet might have thought that “that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet” but she was blinded by love. Let’s be honest. Wouldn’t you pass the lovely Abelmoschus esculentus by without a second glance if you knew it was just plain, common okra?

Despite my 30+ years in the south, I’ve never become southern enough to enjoy eating okra. However, I do think it has a lovely flower–large compared with the other things which are flowering now (almost nothing) and a refreshing pale lemon color with a deep maroon eye. I planted a packet of okra seeds at the end of April. Most came up but only two seedlings survived the early triple-digit heat of May.

They must have been flowering before this because I picked the first okra yesterday. And yes, the flowers are covered in ants…meaning (the photograph revealed what I didn’t see with my naked eye) that the okra has aphids. Still I think it’s a pretty flower. And I’m going to be practicing so that the next time you visit my garden, I can say, “Oh, let me show you my Abelmoschus esculentus.”