Okra leaves are medium in size and oblong to heart-shaped, averaging 7-15 centimeters in length. The vibrant green leaves are covered in small bristles or spines, have serrated edges, and tapers to a point on the non-stem end. There are 5-7 lobes on each stem, and the leaves grow in an alternate pattern. Young Okra leaves are petite, tender, and mildly grassy while mature leaves will become tougher and develop a slightly acidic flavor. Okra trees are also known for their green pods that encase small seeds in a sticky fluid, averaging 10-12 centimeters in length. Both the leaves and the pods are mucilaginous, which means they have a slimy texture when sliced and cooked.
Okra leaves are best suited for cooked applications such as sautéing, stir-frying, and boiling as the heat softens the leaves and helps reduce their spiny texture. They can be consumed raw and used instead of spinach or beet greens in salads, or cooked and used in soups, stews, gumbos, and curries. The leaves have a thickening effect in cooked applications and can be boiled to make tea. Both the leaves and the pods can also be dried and then crushed or ground into a powder to be used as a seasoning or nutritional supplement. Okra leaves pair well with cardamom, turmeric, garlic, onion, rice, sausage, beef, chicken, and pork. They will keep up to three days when stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.