Spinach Hibiscus – Abelmoschus manihot
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The aibika (Abelmoschus manihot) is a flowering plant in the mallow family Malvaceae. It was formerly considered a species of Hibiscus, but is now classified in the genus Abelmoschus. The plant is also known as the spinach hibiscus, sunset muskmallow, sunset hibiscus, or hibiscus manihot.
In the Pacific Islands, the common name for this plant is bele and vauvau and along with taro-leaf spinach, and a wide variety of wild ferns, it is a main green of many villages there.
Although technically a shrub, aibika is a perennial which, under good conditions, can grow to over three meters in height. It is reputedly an extremely nutritious vegetable. Its leaves are very high in vitamins A and C, and iron, and have 12% protein by dry weight. Moreover, it is easily propagated from cuttings, easy to cultivate, relatively disease-resistant and even is considered to be of medicinal value. It is widely planted either along borders of gardens or as an intercrop throughout many traditional gardens in the tropics.