Edible hibiscus: Abelmoschus Manihot, also known as the salad tree/bele

Abelmoschus manihot, was formerly considered a species of Hibiscus, but is now classified in the genus Abelmoschus. The plant is also known as the sunset muskmallow, sunset hibiscus, or hibiscus manihot. 

Edible hibiscus, Abelmoschus manihot, is a perennial shrub which can reach up to 3 meters high. The leaves can be eaten fresh, or can be cooked either alone or added to soups. It is grown exclusively for its leaves and is a very prolific producer, out yielding most crops planted for the production of leafy greens. The leaves can be as large as a slice of bread and one leaf can be used instead of lettuce.

It is reputedly an extremely nutritious vegetable. Its leaves are high in vitamins A and C, and iron, and have 12% protein by dry weight. 

Edible hibiscus must be propagated by cuttings, and is susceptible to nematodes. If you do not have nematode-free soil, try planting edible hibiscus in containers. The plant only blooms, sparingly, in SW Florida around January. Plant available at ECHO Nurser, on location. 

From Growing Your Greens YouTube Channel: "Abelmoschus Manihot, aka the salad tree, aka bele tree aka slimy cabbage tree. This tree will provide you with mild tasting leafy greens all year long."

Kiko's Crump has the largest leaves among the edible hibiscus varieties.

The best tasting varieties were:

1. Auntie Lilli's or Lili's South Sea Salad Tree. Large variagated leaves. The leaves are maple-shaped with 3-colored variegation and high antioxidant content. Flower color varies from lavender, white to white and lavender striped.

Auntie Lilli hibiscus is available here:




2. Kiko's Crump. This is a large leaf variety with prominent sunken venation, red stems and yellow flowers.

The heat of summer puts stress on spinach/lettuces, making salad greens scarce in the hottest months. The Kiko's Crump hibiscus serves as a heat tolerant source of leafy vegetables. The flowers are edible too. With large, "buttery" tender leaves, it is a culinary hibiscus to add to your tropical edible garden. Plants reach from 6-8 feet tall but can be maintained at a smaller size in a pot. Plants are hardy from zones 8b-11 and can be overwintered in a pot in northern climates.

Kiko's Crump is available here:



3. Chief Kubo's Prize. This variety has the smallest leaves and it reportedly not as good tasting as the other, hence it is listed last here. The leaves are deeply-incised, palm-like in shape, therefore leaving little material for eating. Compare and contrast the shape/size of the leaves to the other 2 varieties above.

Chief Kubo is available here: 




Live plants are available here:





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