Climbing Okra

Years ago some friends at church, the Howards,  gave me a bag of seeds. They called them Climbing Okra seeds, but the seeds were black and shaped like small watermelon seeds. I asked them later if I had been given the wrong bag. They assured me that they had shared the intended seeds.

I planted them and was amazed at the vines that grew all over our trellis. There were lovely, glowing, yellow flowers that opened in the evening and fruit that did look and cook like okra.

Luffa acutangula vine flowering.
Luffa acutangula vine flowering.

So what is this mysterious vine of mine?

It is Luffa acutangula. Also know as Chinese okra or edible gourd.  It is kin to the cucumber. It’s yellow blossoms open in the afternoon. They seem to glow as the sun goes down.

climbing okra bloom and a moth
climbing okra bloom and a moth

There are separate male and female flowers. These are pollinated by moths and possibly ants. I have photos of both, busily moving from flower to flower.

Mad moth disturbed while drinking at flower
Mad moth disturbed while drinking at flower
Moth on female flower and ants on male cluster
Moth open flower and ants on cluster(right)

vines in a 004vines in a 002

Each joint of the vine has one leaf, one tendril to grab and climb, one small cluster of male flowers and one female flower on its own stalk.

The fruit gets long in a hurry. Last year, I was surprised by foot-long “okra” hiding among the foilage.

The fruit is best picked at about 6-8 inches. You can leave it and see how big it gets.
The fruit is best picked at about 6-8 inches. You can leave it and see how big it gets.

I look forward to picking a batch and frying them up in cornmeal.

Frying some Luffa/Climbing Okra
Frying some Luffa/Climbing Okra
Luffa on the table.
Luffa on the table.

In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the glowing flowers with the moths and ants.

Follow the Flower!

6 thoughts on “Climbing Okra

  1. This is so neat. Do you happen to have any for sale? We homeschool and this would be unique to plant this year. Thanks for sharing your experience with this plant. 🌞

    Like

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