This plant's genus, Corchorus, is most well known as "jute," an important fiber crop around the world. This particular species is sometimes referred to as "white jute" for the light color of the fiber it produces. It's close cousin Corchorus olitorius is the most common source of jute (widely used for ropes, sacks, bags, curtains, carpets, fabric, and paper), but the fiber of this species, Corchorus capsularis, is considered to be of finer quality. If you want to try your hand at fiber production, we strongly recommend giving this plant a try. But this plant (like its cousin) is not only useful for fiber, it's quite a popular food crop as well. The name "molokhia" is the Arabic name for both plants when used as food. The leaves and young shoots can be eaten fresh or cooked. They are also dried and powdered as a thickener for soups. The young fruit pods — red and round in this species, green and elongated in C. olichorus — can be eaten fresh or cooked. Like its slightly more distant cousin okra (both are in the mallow family, Malvaceae), red-stemmed molokhia can produce mucilagenous food depending on how it's prepared.
This species is quite uncommon in the US, so we're every excited to be offering it this year. In warm climates, red-stemmed molokhia can persist as a perennial for many years, growing up to 12 feet tall. When grown as an annual, it can still grow much taller than the average person. This seed was grown by Josh Lard in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
GROWING TIPS: Start in flats protected from cold. Plant out once soil has warmed up, well after all danger of frost has passed. Leave plenty of room for each plant (see photo).