This plant is a short-lived perennial shrub in the subtropics and the tropics but an annual in cooler climates. It grows 2 - 3 m high with large, soft green leaves. There is great variation in the leaf shape within the species, from deeply palmate to large and rounded. Our supply will vary from season to season, accordingly. Young leaves and shoots may be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, stir-fried or added to soups. The large soft leaves can be used to wrap food, similar to vine or cabbage leaves. As the leaves cook quickly, add them last to steamed veges or stir-fry. The leaves contain mucilage, which can give a slightly slimy feel in the mouth. It is a hardy plant that thrives when it is warm and wet. It prefers full sun but will grow in partial shade. Aibika needs ample water and rich, fertile soil that is kept mulched. It is a very nutritious vegetable; the leaves are high in vitamins A and C, and iron, and have 2% protein by dry weight. Weed Warning: Annual types flower and self-sow readily and have the potential to become quite weedy; their seedpods are also very prickly so are best avoided.