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Jew’s Mallow (Corchorus olitorius)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Jew's Mallow
Corchorus olitorius

A fibre is obtained from the stems, it is the main source of jute[46, 61, 200] but is considered to be inferior to the fibre obtained from C. capsularis[61]. The fibre is somewhat coarse and is used mainly for sackcloth etc[57]. The stems are harvested when the plant is in flower and are then retted (allowed to begin to rot) so that the fibre can be extracted[171]. This species tends to branch making fibre extraction more difficult[114]. Growing the plants very close together will prevent some of the branching. If used in making paper, the fibres are cooked for 2 hours with lye and then ball milled for 4_ hours. The paper is grey/buff[189]. Fibre yields run ca 800-1600 kg/ha with exceptional cases of 2400 in India, and genetic potential of 4000 kg/ha, the fibre representing ca 6% of the green weight[269]. Intercropped with Vigna, jute has yielded 3270 kg compared to 2290 monocropped[269].

The very light and soft wood is used in making sulphur matches[158].

  • Medicinal Use

    The leaves are demulcent, diuretic, febrifuge and tonic[240]. They are used in the treatment of chronic cystitis, gonorrhoea and dysuria[240]. A cold infusion is said to restore the appetite and strength[269].

    The seeds are purgative[240].

    Injections of olitoriside, an extract from the plant, markedly improve cardiac insufficiencies and have no cumulative attributes; hence, it can serve as a substitute for strophanthin[269].

  • Edible Use

    Leaves – raw or cooked[1, 27, 46, 61]. Young leaves are added to salads whilst older leaves are cooked as a pot-herb[2, 183, 269]. High in protein[183]. The dried leaves can be used as a thickener in soups[183].

    A tea is made from the dried leaves[183].

    Immature fruits are added to salads or used as a potherb[183].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow spring in a greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in late spring, after the last expected frosts[200]. In areas with hot summers it should be possible to sow the seed in situ in mid spring.
Prefers a very fertile soil and a hot humid climate[169]. Tolerates very wet conditions according to one report[57] whilst another says that it does not tolerate waterlogged soils[169]. Jute is reported to tolerate an annual precipitation between 40 and 429m,an annual average temperature range of 16.8 to 27.5¡C and a pH in the range of 4.5 to 8.2[269]. Jute is sometimes cultivated for the fibre in its stem and also for its edible leaves[183]. It makes an excellent spinach substitute in areas with hot summers[183]. This species is not hardy in Britain but it can be grown as a half-hardy annual here, though it grows much better in areas that are warmer than typical summers in this country[27]. Some reports say that this plant is an annual whilst one says that it is perennial. Since the plant is not hardy in Britain we can only grow it as an annual. This species is very closely related to C. capsularis
Tropical Asia?

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*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.