Aibika, Island Cabbage, Queensland Greens /Abelmoschus Manihot: formerly Hibiscus Manihot/
Aibika is a short-lived perennial shrub.
It grows 2-3m high with large, soft green leaves.
There are over 70 named varieties with different leaf shapes.
Keep an eye out for interesting varieties such as ‘red stem’, which has deeply cut green leaves and red stems.
Young leaves can be eaten raw.
Tips and older leaves are cooked as spinach.
Cooked leaves are mucilaginous, which means they have a slightly slimy texture. Island people recognise the nutritious value of plants with this characteristic. Minimise this property by eating raw or cooking the leaves whole. Chopping increases the sliminess.
Chopped leaves make a great thickener for soups or sauces.
Large leaves can be used to wrap food, similar to cabbage or vine leaves.
Subtropics to the tropics
Prefers a moist, fertile well-mulched soil. It grows best in dappled shade so it is perfect as an understory plant but it will also tolerate full sun.
Propagate by cuttings of 4-8 nodes and 10-15cm long.
Plant once the soil warms up in mid Spring (October).
Plant at 60cm spacing.
Young leaves and shoots are most succulent in the wet season.
Harvest (prune) the top 8-10cm of leaves and tips frequently.
This extends the life of the plant as well as keeping it compact.
Risks and weed potential
It does not set viable seed and is not considered invasive.