The geographical origin of okra is disputed, with supporters of South Asian, Ethiopian and West African origins. The word okra is of Nigerian origin and the name is derived with ọkwurụ in the Igbo language spoken in Nigeria. Okra is cultivated throughout the tropical and warm temperate regions of the world for its fibrous fruits or pods containing round, white seeds. The Egyptians and Moors of the 12th and 13th centuries used the Arabic word for the plant, bamya, suggesting it had come from the east. One of the earliest accounts is by a Spanish Moor who visited Egypt in 1216, who described the plant under cultivation by the locals who ate the tender, young pods with meal. From Arabia, the plant spread around the shores of the Mediterranean Sea and eastward. The plant was introduced to the Americas by ships plying the Atlantic slave trade. Okra may have been introduced to southeastern North America in the early 18th century. It was being grown as far north as Philadelphia by 1748. Thomas Jefferson noted it was well established in Virginia by 1781. Delicious okra recipes.
Companions: peppers, eggplant