a plant of the mallow family, grown in warm climates for its large brightly colored flowers or for products such as fiber or timber.
• Genus Hibiscus, family Malvaceae: many species, including the rose mallow.
ORIGIN Latin, from Greek hibiskos, which Dioscorides identified with the marsh mallow.
Hibiscus is an example of complete flowers. Hibiscus leaves are alternate, ovate to lanceolate, often with a toothed or lobed margin. Hibiscus flowers are large, conspicuous, trumpet-shaped, with five or more petals, color from white to pink, red, orange, purple or yellow, and from 4–18 cm broad. Flower color in certain species, such as H. mutabilis and H. tiliaceus, changes with age. Hibiscus fruit is a dry five-lobed capsule, containing several seeds in each lobe, which are released when the capsule dehisces (splits open) at maturity. It is of red and white colours.
Many species are grown for their showy flowers or used as landscape shrubs, and are used to attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds.
One species of Hibiscus, known as kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus), is extensively used in paper-making (competes with industrial hemp, GMO cotton, and now trees).
Hibiscus Flower Foods
Dried hibiscus is edible, and is often a delicacy in Mexico. It can also be candied and used as a garnish.
The roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is used as a vegetable.
Certain species of hibiscus are also beginning to be used more widely as a natural source of food coloring (E163), and replacement of Red #3 / E127.
Many a hibiscus flower can go into salads and the like but most of them are virtually flavorless but they are pretty and add texture. I happen to like the False Roselle, Hibiscus acetosella, because beside the edible pink flower the leaves are edible as well, raw or cooked. I use the young leaves for salads and stir fry. They keep their color. A close relative, Hibiscus sabdariffa is the real roselle and is also known as the "Florida Cranberry" or the "Cranberry Hibiscus." A tart juice can be made from its fat calyxes. Its blossoms are edible as well.
Hibiscus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidopteran species, including Chionodes hibiscella, Hypercompe hambletoni, the nutmeg moth, and the turnip moth.
Hibiscus Flower Drinks & Beverages
Hibiscus tea made from hibiscus flowers is known by many names in many countries around the world and is served both hot and cold. Hibiscus beverage is well known for its color, tanginess and flavor.
It is known as bissap in West Africa, karkadé in Egypt and Sudan, flor de Jamaica in Mexico, "agua de Jamaica" in Honduras, gudhal (गुड़हल) in India and gongura in Brazil. Some refer to it as roselle, a common name for the hibiscus flower.
Hibiscus tea is a tisane or "herbal tea" consumed both hot and cold by people around the world. The drink is an infusion made from crimson or deep magenta-coloured calyces (sepals) of the Hibiscus sabdariffa flower. It is also referred to as roselle (another common name for the hibiscus flower) or rosella (Australian), flor de Jamaica in Latin America, karkadé in Jordan, Egypt and Sudan, Chai Kujarat in Iraq, Chai Torsh in Iran, gumamela in the Philippines, bissap, tsoborodo or wonjo in West Africa, sorrel in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, red sorrel in the wider Caribbean, and other names in other regions, including the U.S., where it is sometimes known as simply Jamaica.
Hibiscus tea has a tart, cranberry-like flavor, and sugar is often added to sweeten the beverage. The tea contains vitamin C and minerals and is used traditionally as a mild medicine. In west Sudan a white hibiscus flower is favored for its bitter taste and is not for sale, but for the use of the owners family and their guests. Hibiscus tea contains 15-30% organic acids, including citric acid, malic acid, and tartaric acid. It also contains acidic polysaccharides and flavonoid glycosides, such as cyanidin and delphinidin, that give it its characteristic deep red colour.
Hibiscus Flower Health Benefits
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is considered to have a number of medical uses in Chinese herbology.
The tea is popular as a natural diuretic; it contains vitamin C and minerals, and is used traditionally as a mild medicine.
Dieters or people with kidney problems often take it without adding sugar for its beneficial properties and as a natural diuretic.
A 2008 USDA study shows consuming hibiscus tea lowers blood pressure in a group of prehypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults. Three cups of tea daily resulted in an average drop of 8.1 mmHg in their systolic blood pressure, compared to a 1.3 mmHg drop in the volunteers who drank the placebo beverage. Study participants with higher blood pressure readings (129 or above) had a greater response to hibiscus tea: their systolic blood pressure went down by 13.2 mmHg.
This data supports the idea that drinking hibiscus tea in an amount readily incorporated into the diet may play a role in controlling blood pressure, although more research is required.
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis has a number of medical uses in Chinese herbology. Lokapure s.g.et.al their research indicates some potential in cosmetic skin care; for example, an extract from the flowers of Hibiscus rosa- sinensis has been shown to function as an anti-solar agent by absorbing ultraviolet radiation.
In the Indian traditional system of medicine, Ayurveda, hibiscus, especially white hibiscus and red hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), is considered to have medicinal properties. The roots are used to make various concoctions believed to cure ailments such as cough, hair loss or hair greying. As a hair treatment, the flowers are boiled in oil along with other spices to make a medicated hair oil. The leaves and flowers are ground into a fine paste with a little water, and the resulting lathery paste is used as a shampoo plus conditioner.
Drinking hibiscus tea can lower blood pressure in people with type 2 diabetes, prehypertension, or mild hypertension. The average systolic blood pressure for diabetics drinking hibiscus tea decreased from 134.8 mmHg (17.97 kPa) at the beginning of one study to 112.7 mmHg (15.03 kPa) at the end of the study, one month later. Drinking 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. Hibiscus flowers contain anthocyanins, which are believed to be active antihypertensive compounds, acting as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors.
The effects of drinking hibiscus tea are comparable to blood-pressure medication. 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.
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." However, at this point, there is no reliable evidence to support recommending hibiscus tea in the treatment of primary hypertension.