Okra is in the mallow plant family, which also includes the weedy marsh mallow, whose roots contain an okra-like mucilage that was once whipped with sugar and eggs to make marshmallows. Is it just me, or does knowing this make you want to run into the kitchen and whip up something sweet and gooey using okra juice? Sweet Potato Pie with Puffy Okra Mucilage? (The name probably needs a little more work.)
Okra is also a cousin to the hibiscus plant, which will not surprise you if you’ve ever seen an okra plant in bloom. The flowers (usually in shades of yellow with maroon centers) are big and bold and quite popular with honey bees. The foliage is also attractive and would make a striking addition to an edible landscape. Especially beautiful are the deep burgundy varieties. And one more plus to the okra plant? It’s one of the most drought-tolerant vegetables you can grow in your home garden.
Okra’s fun for arts and crafts, too. Just slice it open, dip into paint and stamp away.