Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa var. altissima), a bast fibre crop adapted to the warm climate of Northern Ghana, offers a great economic potential not yet explored for lack of information on its distribution, collection, and genetic diversity. Little variability is reported in exotic genotypes to merit trait improvement. The objective of this study is to investigate distribution and diversity in roselle of Northern Ghana. Twenty-five accessions collected from seven districts were field evaluated in a 5×5 lattice square design in three replications at twelve qualitative and five quantitative morphological traits. Data were analysed for within- and between-population variability and multivariate analysis. Large within-population variability of SDI 0.72 to 0.87 was identified in accessions of Kassena-Nankana East district. The most variable traits, plant height and branch number, varied from 184 cm to 284 cm with six accessions HA-44, HA-47, HA-43, HA-38, HA-52, and HA-42 having the tallest plants and least basal branching of four. Mean flowering time was between 96 and 104 days. Mean Euclidean distance of 3.03 ± 0.90 ranged from 0.41 to 5.17. Based on means across pairwise distances of 2.22 and 3.94, three accessions were divergent, namely, HA-61 (3.94), HA-57 (3.66) and HA-59 (3.63). Clustering and principal components analyses delineated three distinct groups. The first three PCs explained 100% of the variance. The ample diversity in roselle awaits exploitation for genetic improvement, particularly for fibre yield.
Key words: Bast fibre crop, cluster analysis, discriminant analysis, genetic diversity, morphology, PCA, roselle.
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