Skip to main content

Abelmoschus Medik.

Malvenfam. 45 (1787)
Name Status

Scientific Description

Common name. Native Rosellas. Family Malvaceae.

Tribe Hisbisceae.

Habit and leaf form. Shrubs, or herbs (often prickly hairy). Plants unarmed. Annual, or perennial; to 0.2–4 m high. Mesophytic. Not heterophyllous. Leaves small to medium-sized; alternate; spiral; petiolate; non-sheathing; simple. Leaf blades dorsiventral; usually dissected (3–7-lobed), or entire; ovate, or obovate, or triangular; palmately lobed; more or less palmately veined; cordate, or hastate, or sagittate. Mature leaf blades adaxially pubescent, or glabrous (sometimes); abaxially pubescent, or glabrous (sometimes). Leaves with stipules (stipules linear or filiform). Stipules caducous, or persistent. Leaf blade margins entire, or crenate, or serrate, or dentate. Leaf anatomy. Hairs present; complex hairs present. Complex hairs stellate. Extra-floral nectaries absent.

Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers hermaphrodite. Unisexual flowers absent. Plants hermaphrodite. Entomophilous.

Inflorescence and flower features. Flowers solitary, or aggregated in ‘inflorescences’; axillary; in racemes. Inflorescences terminal. Flowers pedicellate (pedicels inarticulate); small to large; somewhat irregular. The floral asymmetry involving the perianth. Flowers 5 merous. Hypogynous disk absent. Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla; 10; 2 -whorled; isomerous. Calyx present (spathe-like); 5; 1 -whorled; gamosepalous (connate towards the base, splitting almost to the base on one side during expansion of the corolla); lobed; lobulate (shortly 5-lobed); hairy, or glabrous; valvate; exceeded by the corolla; unequal but not bilabiate; not persistent (adnate to and falling with the corolla). Calyx lobes triangular. Epicalyx present (free, or occasionally shortly connate, and persistent bracteoles). Corolla present; 5; 1 -whorled; polypetalous (adnate to the base of the staminal column); contorted; regular; hairy abaxially; glabrous adaxially; with contrasting markings (usually with a different colour base); white, or yellow, or pink, or purple (or lavender); deciduous. Petals obovate. Androecium present. Androecial members indefinite in number. Androecium 50–100 (i.e. ‘many’). Androecial members adnate; all equal; coherent (connate; the filaments fused in a column surrounding the style); 1 - adelphous (the tube attached to the petals); 1 -whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens (or rather, half-stamens, each having only a half anther). Stamens 50–100. Anthers dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse; unilocular. Gynoecium 5 carpelled. The pistil 5 celled. Gynoecium syncarpous; synstylovarious to eu-syncarpous; superior. Ovary plurilocular; 5 locular. Gynoecium stylate. Styles 1; more than 4-branched (distally 5-branched, connate towards the base); apical. Stigmas 5 (sessile cushion-like stigmas). Placentation axile. Ovules 30–50 per locule (i.e. ‘many’).

Fruit and seed features. Fruit 20–50 mm long; non-fleshy; hairy; dehiscent; a capsule (ellipsoid to ovoid, usually beaked or mucronate). Capsules loculicidal (by 5-valves). Dispersal unit the seed. Fruit 30–50 seeded (i.e. ‘many’). Seeds not compressed (reniform in outline); conspicuously hairy (often with concentric rings of papillae), or not conspicuously hairy.

Geography, cytology, number of species. World distribution: south and south-east Asia and northern Australia. Native of Australia. Not endemic to Australia. Australian states and territories: Western Australia, Northern Territory, and Queensland. Northern Botanical Province. A genus of 6 species; 2 species in Western Australia; 0 endemic to Western Australia.

Etymology. From the Arabic for "father of musk", referring to the musk scented seeds.