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Musk Mallow (Abelmoschus moschatus)

Hibiscus abelmoschus.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Musk Mallow
Abelmoschus moschatus

An essential oil is obtained from the plant[238]. It is used as a food flavouring and in perfumery as a musk substitute[238]. However, it has been known to cause photosensitivity so this use has been largely discontinued[238].

An oil obtained from the seed contains 18.9% linoleic acid[240]. The oil is f high econmic value[266]. Total yields of oil are not given[K].

The seeds are used as an insecticide[4, 238]. Another report says that extracts of the fruits and upper parts of the plant show insecticidal activity[240].

A fibre is obtained from the stem bark[238]. It is used to make ropes[272].

A mucilage obtained from the roots is used as a size for paper[238].

  • Medicinal Use

    An emulsion made from the seed is antispasmodic and is especially effective in the digestive system[4, 238]. The seeds are also chewed as a nervine, stomachic and to sweeten the breath[4, 238]. They are also said to be aphrodisiac[4, 238].

    The seeds are valued medicinally for their diuretic, demulcent and stomachic properties. They are also said to be stimulant, antiseptic, cooling, tonic, carminative and aphrodisiac.

    A paste of the bark is applied to cuts, wounds and sprains[272].

    The essential oil is used in aromatherapy for the treatment of depression and anxiety[238]. It is also applied externally to treat cramp, poor circulation and aching joints[238].

  • Edible Use

    Young leaves and shoots – cooked in soups[183, 272]. Used as a vegetable[238]. The leaves are also used to clarify sugar[183].

    Unripe seedpods – cooked as a vegetable in much the same way as okra (A. esculentus)[183, 238, 272].

    Seed – cooked[272]. It is fried or roasted and has a flavour similar to sesame seeds[272]. The seed is also used as a flavouring for liqueurs or to scent coffee[183, 238].

    An essential oil is obtained from the plant and is used to flavour baked goods, ice cream, sweets and soft drinks[183].

    Root[183]. No more details are given, though the root is likely to have a bland flavour and a fibrous texture.

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow April in a greenhouse. The seed germinates best at a temperature around 24 – 24¡c[238]. When large enough to handle, prick out the seedlings into individual pots of rich soil and plant them out after the last expected frosts[K]. The seed can also be sown in situ in late April in areas with warm summers. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July in a frame[238].
Easily grown in a rich well-drained soil in a sunny position[238]. Tolerates a pH in the range 6 to 7.8. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to about -5¡c and can be grown outdoors in the milder areas of the country[238]. The plant grows as a shrub in frost-free climates but is usually cut back to the ground in British winters. So long as these winters are not too cold, however, it can usually be grown as a herbaceous perennial with new shoots being produced freely from the root-stock. These flower in the summer[238]. It is probably wise to apply a good mulch to the roots in the autumn[K]. It is best to cut back the stems to about 15cm long in the spring even if they have not been killed back by the frost[238]. This will ensure an abundance of new growth and plenty of flowers in the summer. The musk mallow is widely cultivated in tropical climates for its many uses[238]. There is at least one named form, selected for its ornamental value. ‘Mischief’ is somewhat smaller than the species, reaching a height of 50cm[238].
S.E. Asia – Himalayas to China and Vietnam.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*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.