1) Red Hibiscus History & General Info
- Location on Property: Garden D, Garden E, Avocado Hale,
- Scientific or Other Names: Sorrel; Roselle; Red Hibiscus
- Region of Origin: Native to warm, temperate, subtropical and tropical regions throughout the world.
- General History: Roselle is native from India to Malaysia, where it is commonly cultivated, and must have been carried at an early date to Africa. It has been widely distributed in the Tropics and Subtropics of both hemispheres, and in many areas of the West Indies and Central America has become naturalized. The Flemish botanist, M. de L’Obel, published his observations of the plant in 1576, and the edibility of the leaves was recorded in Java in 1687. Seeds are said to have been brought to the New World by African slaves. Roselle was grown in Brazil in the 17th Century and in Jamaica in 1707. The plant was being cultivated for food use in Guatemala before 1840. J.N. Rose, in 1899, saw large baskets of dried calyxes in the markets of Guadalajara, Mexico.
2) Plant Uses:
- As Food:
- Red Hibiscus is also a primary ingredient in many herbal teas
- The leaves are pleasantly tart and can be eaten in salads and stir fries. They retain their red color even after cooking. Because the leaves are a bit mucilaginous (slimy), they are best cooked in small-ish quantities and cooked only for a short time.
- As Medicine: The heated leaves are applied to cracks in the feet and on boils and ulcers to speed maturation. A lotion made from leaves is used on sores and wounds. The seeds are said to be diuretic and tonic in action and the brownish-yellow seed oil is claimed to heal sores on camels. In India, a decoction of the seeds is given to relieve dysuria, strangury and mild cases of dyspepsia and debility. Brazilians attribute stomachic, emollient and resolutive properties to the bitter roots.
- As the leaves have a good amount of calcium, phosphorus, iron and malic acid, they can be used to fight all kind of low-energy feelings and as a natural daily supplement, particularly in case of intense work-out or hot season.
- Other Uses: Many species are grown for their showy flowers or used as landscape shrubs. The seeds are considered excellent feed for chickens. The residue after oil extraction is valued as cattle feed when available in quantity.
3) Growing Instructions
- Growing: They bloom best with temperatures ranging from 60 to 90 degrees. The hibiscus needs to be watered carefully. Make sure you do not over flood the roots. Keep a steady flow of water for the plant in warm weather. In colder weather, only water the plant if it looks dry. Try to keep all insects and pests away so the flower does not get ruined. If you are potting your flower, make sure the pot has plenty of drainage.
- Best time to Harvest: The fruits are harvested when full-grown but still tender and, at this stage, are easily snapped off by hand. They are easier to break off in the morning than at the end of the day. If harvesting is overdue and the stems have toughened, clippers must be used.
- Sunlight Requirements: Full Shade, Partial Shade, Full Sunlight
- Soil Requirements: While deep, fairly fertile sandy loam is preferable, roselle grew and produced well over many years in the oölitic limestone of Dade County. Wester observed that the high pinelands were far more suitable than low-lying muck soils. The plants tended to reseed themselves and on some properties they spread so extensively they became a nuisance and were eradicated.
Propagation: Cutting, Division, Grafting, Seed, Separating
- Start by taking the cutting with clean scissors or loppers
- The cutting should be taken from new growth or softwood. Softwood is branches on the hibiscus that have not yet matured. Softwood will be pliable and often has a greenish cast.
- The hibiscus cutting should be 4 to 6 inches long.
- Remove everything but the top set of leaves.
- Trim the bottom of the hibiscus cutting to be cut just below the bottom leaf node (bump where the leaf was growing)
- Place the hibiscus cutting in well draining composted soil.
- Place the hibiscus cutting into the hole and backfill it around the hibiscus cutting.
- Make sure the rooting soil is thoroughly wet, then stick a finger into the rooting soil.
- Place a plastic bag over the cutting, making sure that the plastic does not touch the leaves.
- Place the hibiscus cutting in partial shade.
- Make sure the rooting soil stays damp (not wet) until the hibiscus cuttings are rooted. The cuttings should be rooted in about eight weeks.
- Controlling Spread: Propagate and prune regularly
- Difficulties with this plant: Roselle’s major enemy is the root-knot nematode, Heterodera rudicicola. Mealybugs may be very troublesome.
History of this Plant at Hedonisia: /
- 3 cups dried sorrel or red hibiscus flowers, or 5 Red Zinger tea bags
- 1 4-inch cinnamon stick
- 10 whole cloves
- ¼ tsp. crushed allspice
- 2 3-inch pieces peeled fresh ginger
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
a) To make Sorrel Drink: Bring all ingredients and 4 cups water to a boil in saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes. Cool, strain, and chill.
b) To make Simple Syrup: Bring sugar and water to a boil in small saucepan. Stir to dissolve sugar, and simmer 1 minute. Cool.
c) Pour Sorrel Drink over ice. Serve with pitcher of Simple Syrup for guests to sweeten drinks to taste.
Sparkling Hibiscus Champagne Cocktail
- 1 wild hibiscus flower
- Champagne or Prosecco
Position the hibiscus flower at the bottom of a champagne flute and slowly fill it with your favorite bubbly. As the champagne fizzles, the hibiscus flower will open up and bloom in your glass. Once you drink your bubbly, refill it. Or, just nibble on the edible flower.
In Central America the flowers are blended with ice, sugar, lemon or lime juice and water to make a delicious, purple lemonade.
Hedonisia Hibiscus salad
- 1 cup of red hibiscus leaves
- 2 tangerines
- 2~3 spoons of cashews
- Olive oil, orange and lime juices
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Put in a salad bowl the red hibiscus leaves, peel of the tangerines and cut them in little pieces.
- Prepare the vinaigrette by mixing the orange juice, lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Add the vinaigrette to the salad and feel free to cover it with cashews.
- Taste the Paradise!