A perennial shrub. Edible, nutritious, and easy to plant. Native tropical Asia, bele has long been in cultivation.
Bele is a “cut and poke” plant. It is so easy to reproduce vegetatively; rooting hormones are not required. Cut the stems into 12-inch segments using clippers. Remember what side is the growing tip!!! Bury at least one node under the soil keeping the growing end upward. The plant will yield leaves to harvest in as little as four months after planting, producing leafy greens for at least two years.
Eat it raw, steamed like lau lau, or as a spinach substitute. Bele is reported to be an extremely nutritious superfood containing vitamins A and C, iron, and some protein. Once classified in the hibiscus family, it has been reclassified to the Abelmoschus genus.
- Cultural significance
- No dangers
High Risk Traits:
- Naturalized in Mexico, Australia and possibly elsewhere
- Thrives in tropical climates
- Potentially weedy relatives in genus
- Tolerates many soil conditions (and potentially able to exploit many different habitat types)
- Potential to reach maturity in under 1 year
- Viable seeds dispersed by people, and possibly water
- Ability to resprout after repeated cutting
Low Risk Traits:
- Despite ability to spread, no serious negative impacts have been documented
- Long history of cultivation and domestication. Certain cultivars may produce limited or no seeds
- Leaves and branch tips cooked and eaten as greens
- Relatively large capsules and seeds, if produced, are unlikely to be inadvertently dispersed