Origin: Sahel Province, Burkina Faso
Improvement status: Breeding population
Seeds per packet: ~35
Germination tested 12/2022: 98%
Life cycle: Annual
Hailing from the Sahel province of Burkina Faso in West Africa, 'Lahague' is not your average okra. In a word, it's funky. I (Nate) grew out these seeds in New Jersey from stock seed received from our friend Chris Smith of the Utopian Seed Project (he grew it from seed obtained from the USDA). Chris literally wrote the book on okra (it's called "The Whole Okra" and it's great), and both Chris and I are convinced that 'Lahague' is very different from most every other okra. Indeed, with more study it might prove to be a whole different species. We're selling these seeds as 'Lahague Grex' because this population seems to be more diverse than the original USDA accession, so it's likely there was some inadvertent crossing along with the way. But the main traits that typify 'Lahague' and make it interesting should still be present in a large proportion of plants.
'Lahague' is unique for many reasons, but most obvious is the unusual appearance of both the pods and the plant itself. From a distance, you might not even guess you're looking at an okra plant. 'Lahague' plants are practically prostrate. The branches, while rather short, zig and zag just above the surface of the ground. The pods are short, ridged and somewhat bumpy, and segments of the rip pods are packed with seeds in a jumble, rather than neatly arranged in rows like other okras. The seed oil content — measured at 19.6% in a 2012 USDA study — is also very high, putting 'Lahague' among the highest 1.5% of all of the 1448 varieties evaluated in that study. I'm of the belief that people in Burkina Faso likely developed this as an oilseed crop, since the pods get woody very quickly and despite their small size still produce seeds in profusion. They are edible raw (my favorite way to eat most okras), but the flavor is not exceptional.
'Lahague' first came to our attention because of a single photo Chris sent along with the 'Ultracross' okra (of which 'Lahague' is a component). The pod is so unusual we made it the first photo on the 'Ultracross' page. This grex will contain plants in a range of colors, forms, and shapes, from green to red, from prostrate to upright, and from typical 'Lahague' pods (which look to me like a cross between okra and a dinosaur) to more standard okra pods. We're excited to see what new varieties all of you select from this fascinating population!