Malvaceae, Hibiscus manihot, vauvau, Hibiscus spinach, bele
Hibiscus manihot, or Bele, (syn. Abelmoschus manihot), is a tropical perennial that can grow to over 3 metres high under good conditions. In the Pacific Islands Bele is one of the most utilized green vegetables, along with taro-leaf, spinach, and wild ferns, which are found throughout homegardens and fallow areas. It is reportedly one of the most nutritious green vegetables, being very high in vitamins A and C and in iron, and having 12 per cent protein by dry weight (Standal et al. 1974), which makes it a valuable food in interior villages where animal protein is scarce. The large leaves are very mucilaginous and have demulcent properties.
Bele is easily propagated from cuttings, requires little cultivation, is relatively disease-resistant and drought tolerant. Aside from its use as a vegetable it is also considered to have medicinal value. Planted along borders of gardens or as an intercrop throughout gardens, it will yield for a long time. See below for more info in the comment forum. One commenter, Amy, claims that there are more then 70 varieties of bele in PNG… Not sure if all of these are edible.
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