Musk Mallow
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Musk Mallow
ative Photo: Navendu Pāgé
Common name: Musk Mallow, Musk okra, Ambrette, ornamental okra, annual hibiscus, yorka okra, galu gasturi, bamia moschata, Muskdana, Ornamental okra • Hindi: मुश्कदाना Mushkdana, कस्तूरीदाना Kasturi-dana, जंगली भिंडी Jangli bhindi • Manipuri: Bawrthsaisbe suak, Uichhuhlo • Marathi: कस्तूरी भॆंडी Kasthooribhendi, मुस्कादाना Muskadaana • Tamil: kasturi-vendaik-kay-virai, kaattu kasturi • Malayalam: kasturi-venta-vitta, kattu-kasturi • Telugu: kasturi-benda-vittulu, karpoorabenda • Kannada: ಕಸ್ತೂರಿಬೆಂಡೆ Kasturi bende, ಕಾಡುಕಸ್ತೂರಿ Kaadu kastoori, ಸಟಾಕಸ್ತೂರಿ Sataa kasturi • Bengali: kalkasturi, latakasturi, mushakdan • Urdu: Mushkdana • Assamese: gorokhiakarai • Sanskrit: लताकस्तूरिका Latakasturika • Tangkhul: Tawonrong
Botanical name: Abelmoschus moschatus    Family: Malvaceae (Mallow family)
Synonyms: Hibiscus abelmoschus

Musk Mallow is a herb or undershrub, erect 0.5-3 m tall. Stem is simple and retrorse hairy, bristly to prickly. Leaves are 6-30 cm long and broad, round or broadly ovate, heart-shaped at base, not or 3-7 lobed or parted, bristly on both sides; lobes deltoid to oblong-lanceshaped, sawtoothed to toothed or rounded toothed or rarely entire; stipules linear or thread-like, 6-12 mm long, simple hairy; leaf-stalk 2-30 cm long, bristly. Flowers arise in leaf-axils, solitary, flower-stalk 2-8 cm long, in fruit up to 19 cm. False sepals are 6-10, 8-20 mm long, 1-2.5 mm broad, appressed, linear to lanceshaped. Sepal-cup 2-3.5 cm long. Flower 10 cm across, yellow with a deep purple spot at the base; petals 7-9 cm long, 2-5.5 cm broad, fringed with hairs at base. Staminal tube 1.5-2 cm long. Capsule 5-8 cm long, 2-3.5 cm across, ovoid to spindle-shaped, densely simple hairy, usually bristly. Seeds 3-4 mm across, ovoid-kidney-shaped, usually hairless or rarely star-shaped velvet-hairy, black.
Medicinal uses: Musk Mallow is used as an antidote for snakebites. An emulsion from the seeds is considered to be anti-spasmodic and is used externally. Extensively used as an insecticide and a aphrodisiac. The oil of the seeds, with a strong musk odor, are also used in the perfume industry (now largely replaced by synthetic musk oils) and is used to flavor coffee.

Identification credit: Navendu Pāgé Photographed in Dehradoon, Uttarakhand.

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