Friday, November 19, 2010

Hibiscus sabdariffa (Roselle)

Roselle, Sorrel, Jelly Okra, Florida Cranberry, whatever you call it, Hibiscus sabdariffa is another of the fall and winter blooming species of Hibiscus.  In addition to the attractive pale yellow flowers with maroon centers, this one produces an edible fruit.  Well, technically, it's an enlarged calyx, but it can be used like a fruit to make tea, cold drinks, wine, syrup, jams, relishes, added to salads, or simply eaten fresh.
The calyces turn bright red as they enlarge, growing to two inches in length and rivaling the blooms in their colorful display.  Any surplus of calyces can be frozen, sun-dried, or dehydrated for later use.  They have a tart flavor similar to Cranberry.  Young leaves may be eaten raw in salads or cooked as a green vegetable.
This species has a shrubby habit, growing 6-8 foot in height.
Hibiscus sabdariffa is a native of the region from India to Malaysia but is now grown in tropical regions world-wide.  It is recommended for USDA Zones 8-11 and is usually grown as an annual plant, going from seed to maturity in a single year.  In Zones 10 and 11 it can be grown as a short-lived perennial.  One subspecies of this plant is grown primarily for the commercial fiber obtained from the stems.
In traditional medicines, Roselle is used to treat high blood pressure and hangover.  It has also been found to have anti-bacterial properties.


Andrea said...

Wow Jim, this is vey informative! It is from Asia but i haven't seen it what a shame. Do you mean that reddish structure in the first photo is the calyx which can be eaten? I wonder why it is not really the ovary which becomes the fruit, just like the okra which is its cousin. They are of the same Family Malvaceae. That flower is really similar to okra.

Grower Jim said...

Andrea: Yes, the red part is the edible calyx. The seedpod is a round ball inside. Other closely related species have a similar enclosing calyx but this one takes it to extremes!

Steve Asbell said...

I love how you post on related species in a series. Roselle is still on my wishlist and someday I hope to make an area of the garden with just hibiscus and its relatives, like turks cap, okra, and the rosa-sinensis hybrids too. Wouldn't that be neat? By the way, you might be interested in my vertical garden that I just posted about... it consists of orchids and rhipsalis cacti!

p3chandan said...

In Malaysia we dont actually see it as a hibiscus plant as the flower resembles more to okra's flower. But because it is grown mainly for its fruits (calyx) which have high content of vitamin C and is made into a health drink more like a syrup.

Eliza said...

It's great to see another person growing this plant! I'm puzzled at mine -- this year it didn't ripen as quickly as it usually does. The plants took even longer than usual to start setting blooms when the days shortened. I still have a harvest but it made me really nervous!

Roslyn said...

In Australia they are grown for the fruit as well. It's made into jam. My Mum always had a few plants in her garden.

takaeko said...

I love the collection of your hibiscuses which are so colorful.
I also posted photos of tropical flowers I had found in a southwester island in Okinawa including some hibiscuses.
Please feel free to visit my blog!

Anonymous said...

I love your blog!i am posting this because is recent new for me and i m fascinate with this plant and want it to share.Thanks Emily

Roselle`Agua de Flor de Jamaica" (Anglicized as /həˈmaɪkə/), also called agua de Jamaica and rosa de Jamaica, is popular in Jamaica, Mexico, Central America, and parts of South America and the Caribbean. It is one of several common aguas frescas, which are inexpensive beverages typically made from fresh juices or extracts. Agua de Flor de Jamaica is usually prepared by steeping the calyces, along with ginger (in Jamaica), in boiling water, straining the mixture, pressing the calyces (to squeeze all the juice out), adding sugar, and sometimes a little rum (in Jamaica), and stirring.[1] It is served chilled.
In Panama both the flowers and the drink are called saril (A derivative of the Jamaican word sorrel.). It is prepared by picking and boiling the calyces with chopped ginger, sugar, clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg. It is traditionally drunk around Christmas and Chinese New Year, diverging from Mexico and Central America and much more in line with the Caribbean, due to the strong West Indian influence in Panamanian culture specially in Panama City and most of Panama's Atlantic coast.
Medical studies Hibiscus sabdariffa (Roselle)
A study published in the Journal of Human Hypertension has shown that drinking hibiscus tea can reduce high blood pressure in people with type 2 diabetes. The study results showed the average systolic blood pressure for those drinking hibiscus tea decreased from 134.8 mmHg (17.97 kPa) at the beginning of the study to 112.7 mmHg (15.03 kPa) at the end of the study, one month later.[5]
A study of 65 subjects published in 2009 found that 3 cups of hibiscus tea daily for 6 weeks reduced systolic blood pressure by 7 mm Hg in prehypertensive and mildly hypertensive participants. In those with mean systolic blood pressure over 129 mm Hg, the reduction was nearly 14 mm Hg. The study's lead author has noted that hibiscus flowers contain anthocyanins, which are believed to be the active antihypertensive compounds, acting as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors.[6][7][8]
A study published in 2007 compared Hibiscus sabdariffa L. to the drug lisinopril on people with hypertension. Hibiscus "decreased blood pressure (BP) from 146.48/97.77 to 129.89/85.96 mmHg, reaching an absolute reduction of 17.14/11.97 mmHg (11.58/12.21%, p < 0.05)." Blood pressure "reductions and therapeutic effectiveness were lower than those obtained with lisinopril (p < 0.05)." The authors concluded that hibiscus "exerted important antihypertensive effectiveness with a wide margin of tolerability and safety, while it also significantly reduced plasma ACE activity and demonstrated a tendency to reduce serum sodium (Na) concentrations without modifying potassium (K) levels." They attributed the blood pressure reducing effect of hibiscus to its diuretic effect and its ability to inhibit the angiotensin-converting enzyme through the presence of anthocyanins.[9]
A 2004 study compared the effectiveness of hibiscus to the ACE-inhibiting drug captopril. The authors found that the "obtained data confirm that the H. sabdariffa extract, standardized on 9.6mg of total anthocyanins, and captopril 50 mg/day, did not show significant differences relative to hypotensive effect, antihypertensive effectiveness, and tolerability