our 1,500th post is about a plant that might be okra

There’s always a question when the old post counter clicks up to a “extra special” number.  Do you make a big deal about it and post something, well, extra special, or do you treat it as just another day in the blog mines?  It’s up to you to decide what path I chose.

okra3-blogWe were down in Nashville this weekend, and I saw this really cool weed vine going to seed on a chain link fence.  It had pods that had exploded into silky seedheads that looked like milkweed, but the pods were smooth and not shaped like milkweed pods and of course milkweed is not a vine.

okra4-blogSome people we know who live down there told me it was okra, which sort of makes sense.  Okra is a common food plant in the southern US and if it has what are clearly flying seeds like this plant, it would spread pretty quickly if someone let their garden go to seed.  I never knew okra was a vine, but apparently there are vining varieties out there. (I also thought okra pods were ribbed rather than smooth, but you are supposed to pick them young so maybe they smooth out as they grow larger.)

Nothing I could find in Google images looked quite like this plant.  So call it “okra?” and file it under Mystery Plants I Have Never Seen Before But Thought Were Kind of Interesting.  Anyone who can confirm that okra actually grows wild as a vine in urban areas in the South is encouraged to share pics and stories.

okra1-bugs-blog

And yes, there were bugs on it– kind of gross, but interesting to photograph.  Note that Google image search did yield a photo of similar beetles infesting garden okra, so this may be further evidence that okra, question mark is really okra, period.

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4 Responses to our 1,500th post is about a plant that might be okra

  1. Kim says:

    Pam, it’s milkweed, honeyvine milkweed to be exact. It’s an aggressive pest and I yank it off my fence and out of my hedges all the time. Unfortunately, it’s a also a host for monarch butterfly larvae, so I feel a tremendous amount of guilt in doing so.

    I can’t believe those people told you it was okra. Okra pods are long and skinny and definitely not filled with fluffy seeds.

    • Pam Bliss says:

      Thank you very, much Kim. Milkweed was my first thought, but I am only familiar with the kind that grows on stalks . I didn’t know there was a vinous type. And okra is full of seeds and for all I know they get silky when the plant bolts. I know little of okra except that it’s gummy and gross.

      Honeyvine milkweed it is! It certainly looks like it could be invasive as heck.

      • Kim says:

        Oh, yes – it’s invasive. And hard to get rid of once it becomes established in your yard. It’s a fast-growing perennial and the roots run deep. It gives the soybean farmers fits.

        My mama’s family cooked fried okra a lot and I thought it was icky and slimy. Mama grew it in her garden once and I remember that the flowers on the plants were pretty. I don’t remember what happened when it bolted.

      • Pam Bliss says:

        The flowers are pretty. I learned in my research that okra is a member of the hibiscus family!

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