Okra is a plant cultivated for its immature pods, which are used to thicken and flavor soup and also used as a vegetable, chiefly in the Southern United States. The plant is a native of Africa.
Okra actually is a kind of hibiscus, and it also is closely related to cotton. In the Southern states, where okra is grown in large quantities today, it is also known as gumbo or okzo.
An okra plant grows to be from two to eight feet tall. It bears rounded, fine lobed leaves and greenish yellow flowers. The pods on the plant range from four to six inches long but sometimes grow to be one foot long.
Okra is harvested before the pods become mature. By cooking or canning the vegetable early this way, it is tender when it is served. Mature okra pods can be tough.
The okra plant belongs to the mallow family.