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This seed was grown by the Utopian Seed Project who received the stock seed from Yanna Fishman in Union Mills, NC. Ms. Fishman tells that this flower traces back to a Holocaust survivor, artist, and sculptor, named Agnes Adler, who received the seeds from a Korean patient at a hospital where Ms. Adler worked. He did not speak English well, but when Ms. Adler asked his daughter to translate the name of this plant, she was told it is "Korean silk-flower."
Trying to pinpoint its commonly known name has proven challenging. When I asked him if this variety might also be known worldwide as “Aibika,” Chris Smith, okra extraordinaire and Executive Director of the Utopian Seed Project says: “I don't think it's correct to describe Abelmoschus manihot as Aibika, which is a tropical form of A. manihot from the Pacific Islands. I used to think that, but have since realized that while all Aibika is A. manihot that doesn't mean that all A. manihot is Aibika.”
Aibika is a closely related form of A. manihot widely consumed in the Pacific Islands as a highly productive and nutritious leafy green. Korean Silk Flower also has edible leaves and we have enjoyed it in soups and stews. They are flavorful and mucilaginous, with thickening properties much like okra in soup. It’s worth noting that while technically edible raw, it is not a great raw green. It is fibrous and quickly toughens. They are delicious cooked though! The flower buds and flowers are also edible and can be dried for tea.
Historically, the root of A. manihot is used in traditional Korean paper-making.
We recommend you grow this plant primarily as an ornamental, and experiment with it as a possible food crop. The attractive, large, yellow flowers are reminiscent of okra flowers and other hibiscus cousins and so beautiful we think it is worth growing as an ornamental even if you have no plans to eat from it. It should be noted that this is a wonderful pollinator plant as well! Self-seeding annual. For best germination, scarify seeds before soaking overnight, then scarify again right before planting.
|Average Seed / oz||Seed / 100' Row||Average Yield / 100' Row||Days to Harvest|
|Planting Season||Ideal Soil Temp||Sun||Frost Tolerance|
|After Last Frost||65-85°F||Full Sun||Frost Sensitive|
|Sowing Method||Seed Depth||Direct Seed Spacing||Seeds Per Packet|
|Transplant or Direct Seed||surface||8-14"||55|
|Mature Spacing||Days to Sprout||Production Cycle||Seed Viability|