[hi-BIS-kus RO-suh se-NEN-sis]
China Rose, Chinese hibiscus, Rose-of-China, Chinese Rose,
Hawaiian Hibiscus; Bunga Raya (Malay), Shoe Flower; Karkade
(German); karkadeh (French); carcade (Italian); Japakusuma
(Sanskrit); Gurhal (Hindi)
Hibiscus is an evergreen, growing as a small tree or large
shrub which in the wild can grow to 30 feet high, in
cultivation it grows to 4-15 feet.
The deep green, glossy, oval leaves are somewhat
pointed and slightly toothed on the edges.
Leaves range from one to four inches long.
The flowers are large and exotic looking.
When fully open the flared, five-petaled flower can
be four to six inches across with brilliantly hued petals of
orange, red or purplish red.
The reproductive parts of the flowers stick out on a
Usually each flower only lasts for a day or two, but new
buds are constantly produced, making the hibiscus almost
Hardy in zone 10.
Elsewhere it can be grown in a container and taken
outdoors for the summer.
Hibiscus grows best in full sun and well-drained
from the wind by growing it in a sheltered location.
To achieve a full, lushly formed plant, prune the
hibiscus stems back by one-third of their length each
cuttings can be taken in the summer.
Since most hibiscus are hybrids, growing them from
seed does not often result in plants true to the parent.
The fleshy calyces which enfold the ripe fruit are
harvested at intervals and dried in the open air.
Hibiscus is from the Greek
ibiskos, a form of
mallow, but the origin of the specific name is uncertain.
National flower of
Long considered an aphrodisiac.
In Hindu mythology the hibiscus is the flower offered
in the worship of the Goddess.
15-30% plant acides including citric, malic and tartaric
anthocyans, among them delphinidin 3-sambubioside,
delphinidin, cyanidin 3-sambubioside; galacturonic acid,
rhamnose, galactose, arabinose, glucose, xylose, mannose.
refrigerant, anti-inflammatory, astringent
sour, sweet, cool
Helps to correct inability to connect with one’s female
sexuality; lack of warmth and vitality, often due to prior
exploitation or abuse.
Its qualities are warmth and responsiveness in female
sexuality; integration of soul warmth and bodily passion.
The flowers reportedly
serve as an astringent, while the root contains some
mucilage, which is known to have a soothing effect on the
mucous membranes that line the respiratory and digestive
African folk medicine, the drug is considered spasmolytic,
antibacterial, chologogic, diuretic and anthelmintic.
Aqueous extracts of hibiscus flowers are said to
relax the muscles of the uterus and to lower the blood
tincture is good for minor stomach and intestinal disorders.
Used for kidney and reproductive system problems due
Effective for menstrual difficulties, especially excessive
root yields a drug which Ayurveda believes to be useful in
treating venereal disease.
An extract from the hibiscus flower is also used in
preventing unwanted pregnancies, inhibiting the flow of
semen in men, and bringing on temporary sterility in women.
Ayurvedic physicians believe the anticonception
properties of the drug to be effective postcoitally.
In tests on male animals the period of steriliy is
too limited to occasion much interest as a male
contraceptive, but the findings as regards a possible
natural postcoital contraceptive for women have been more
Helps purify blood.
Good for the heart.
skin complexion and promotes hair growth.
is 10-30 drops 3 times per day.
Three 240 mL servings a day of tea made with hibiscus (Hibiscus
sabdariffa L.) were associated with a 7.2 mmHg reduction
in systolic blood pressure and a 3.1 mmHg reduction in
diastolic blood pressure, compared to 1.3 and 0.5 mmHg in
the placebo group, according to findings published in The
Journal of Nutrition.
Researchers from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition
Research Center on Aging at Tufts University report that
this is the first placebo-controlled clinical trial to study
if hibiscus tea, in an amount easily attained from the diet,
may affect blood pressure.
Dr McKay and her co-workers recruited 65 adult with
pre- and mild hypertension, and aged between 30 and 70, to
participate in their randomized, double-blind,
placebo-controlled clinical trial.
Subjects were randomly assigned to consume either
three servings of brewed hibiscus tea per day or a placebo
drink for six weeks. At the end of the study people in the
hibiscus tea group displayed an average reduction of 7.2
mmHg in their systolic blood pressure, compared to 1.3 mmHg
in the placebo group. A slight but not significant decrease
in diastolic blood pressure was also recorded in the
hibiscus tea group.
The benefits of hibiscus tea appeared to be greater in people who had
higher systolic blood pressure at the start of the study.
Previous studies indicated that hibiscus may act by
relaxing blood vessels, and this may be linked to calcium
channels, or inhibition of the angiotensin converting enzyme
(ACE), thereby preventing the conversion of angiotensin I to
the potent vasoconstrictor, angiotensin II.
There is also evidence in the scientific literature
that hibiscus may act as a diuretic. Another possible
explanation for the apparent benefits is related to the
anthocyanin content of H. sabdariffa.
Chinese and Indian women have
traditionally boiled the flowers and leaves of the hibiscus,
then mixed the infusion with herbal oil before applying it
to their hair as a stimulant to the growth of luxurious
include hibiscus flower juice in a famous herbal oil and
conditioner which is now bottled and sold throughout eastern India under the brand name Jaba
reason for the widespread popularity of this oil is its
effectiveness against dandruff.
Hibiscus Rinse to Redden Hair
Make an infusion by boiling a handful of hibiscus heads in 1
pint of water and simmering for 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and leave for one hour.
Strain and bottle.
After shampooing, rinse the hair in the infusion to
highlight the reddish tones in brown hair.
hibiscus is also the source of a black dye that was used for
varying purposes in the Far East, from blackening shoes to tinting women’s hair
flowers contain citric acid, tartaric acid, vitamins and
They are mainly used in a deep red, aromatic infusion that
can be drunk hot or cold as a tonic stimulating the
intestinal and kidney functions.
The fleshy dried calyx of jamaica
(Hibiscus sabdariffa) is boiled to make an exotic, deep
garnet-colored beverage, served over ice.
Fresh hibiscus petals can be added sparingly to
salads, or they can be very lightly cooked.
They also make gorgeous containers for diced fruit or
calyces are also used in jellies and ice creams, and to
color foods and cosmetic products.
The best varieties are the African, which contain a
higher proportion of citric acid to tartaric acid.
The leaves, eaten raw or cooked, have a rhubarblike
are eaten roasted or made into an oily sauce.
Hibiscus and Orange Finger Cookies with Cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
5/8 cup butter, plus a
little for greasing
5/8 cup caster sugar
grated zest 1
2 Tbsp purple hibiscus petals, torn
1/ 4 tsp ground cinnamon
sugar and fresh hibiscus petals, to decorate
Heat the oven to 350F.
Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Sift the flour and baking soda into a large, warmed
In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until
very pale and creamy.
Add the grated orange zest, hibiscus petals and the
beaten egg and mix thoroughly.
Add the cinnamon, then fold in the flour mixture,
mixing well to form a firm dough.
Wrap in saran wrap and chill in the refrigerator for
lightly floured surface, roll out the dough and cut into
these on the greased baking sheet and bake for 10-15
minutes, until lightly colored.
Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack and leave to
cool a little.
Serve slightly warm, dusted with confectioner’s sugar and
decorated with fresh hibiscus flowers.
(Cooking With Flowers)
1 cup cooked sushi rice
1 avocado, cut into ½
crab meat, cut into small pieces
black and white sesame
soy sauce or tamari
Place a teaspoonful of rice into each flower.
Add a piece of avocado and a piece of crab meat.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
If desired, have soy sauce or tamari and wasabi for
Flowers from Garden to Palate)
Hawaiian Fruit Salad with Hibiscus
juice to taste
2 Tbsp candied ginger, finely diced
Tbsp banana or macadamia nut liqueur
2 hibiscus flowers,
petals only, chopped
4 large hibiscus blossoms, stamen
mint leaves, for garnish
whole hibiscus for
Peel and finely dice the mango and papaya, discarding the
seeds. Peel and
finely dice the pineapple (about 2 cups).
Place the diced fruit in a large bowl.
Add lime juice, diced ginger, and liqueur.
Refrigerate the fruit to chill.
Just before serving, toss in chopped petals.
To serve, remove stamens from the whole hibiscus
flowers. Set on
dessert plates and spoon some of the fruit salad inside,
letting the rest spill onto the plates, as you would a
Decorate with mint leaves and additional petals.
(Edible Flowers a Kitchen Companion)
3 oz cream cheese,
½ cup peach yogurt
¼ cup sugar
chopped fresh peaches
16 slices fresh peaches
Mix well cream cheese, yogurt, sugar, and chopped peaches.
Place a scoop of mixture in each blossom and top with 2
(Edible Flowers: a Recipe Collection)
Rosemary and Cardamom Sorbet
3 or 4 whole cardamom pods
1/3 cup dried hibiscus flowers
fresh rosemary, coarsely chopped or 1/2 tsp dried
Toast the cardamom pods in a dry skillet over
medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes, until lightly toasted.
Smash the pods open with the bottom of the skillet.
Combine the cardamom, hibiscus and rosemary in a
saucepan with 4 cups water.
Cover and bring to a boil.
Let it boil a minute.
Remove it from the heat and let it steep for 5-10
to 1/3 cup sugar or
honey and 1/3 cup fresh lemon or lime juice into the tea.
Let it cool to room temperature and then chill.
Process it in an ice cream maker according to
Hawaiian Fruit Salad with Hibiscus
tablespoon coriander seed
2 cups water, divided
teaspoon cardamom seed
1 cup honey
1 star anise flower
2 tablespoons dried hibiscus flowers
6 whole cloves
teaspoons orange zest
6 rose hips
1 cup 100-proof
½ cup brandy
Coarsely grind coriander, cardamom, star anise, cloves and
rose hips in coffee grinder or food processor.
Bring 1 cup water and honey to a boil over
medium-high heat. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes, skimming off any
foam that rises to the surface. Add spice mixture and boil
for 4 minutes more. Remove from heat and let stand for 5
minutes. Place hibiscus flowers in bowl. Use a fine-mesh
strainer to strain syrup into bowl. Let stand for 10
minutes, then strain into a clean 1-quart container. Add
orange zest, vodka, and brandy. Top off with remaining
water. Cover and let stand in a cool, dark place for 1
month. Use a coarse sieve or colander to strain out orange
Rack or filter liqueur into final container and age for 1
month before serving. (Cordials from Your Kitchen)
1 part licorice root, powdered
2 parts hibiscus
2 parts alfalfa
1 part lemon verbena
2 parts red clover
Cooking with Flowers,
Jenny Leggatt, Ballantine Books, 1987; ISBN: 0-449-90252-8
Cordials from your Kitchen,
Pattie Vargas & Rich Gulling, Storey, 1997; ISBN:
Edible Flowers a Kitchen Companion,
Kitty Morse, Ten Speed Press, 1995; ISBN: 0-89815-754-4
Edible Flowers: A Recipe Collection,
Marilyn Lande, 1994, Lan-Design Publications; ISBN:
Edible Flowers from Garden to Palate,
Cathy Wilkinson Barash, Fulcrum, 1993; ISBN: 1-55591-164-1
Flower Essence Repertory,
Patricia Kaminski and Richard Katz, Flower Essence Society,
1994; ISNB: 0-9631306-1-7
Garden of Life, Naveen Patnaik, Doubleday, 1993; ISBN:
An Herbal Feast, Risa Mornis, Keats, 1998; ISBN:
The Natural Beauty Book,
Anita Guyton, Thorsons, 1991; ISBN: 0-7225-2498-6
Simon & Schuster’s Guide to Herbs and Spices,
edited by Stanley Schuler, Fireside Books, 1990; ISBN:
Thorne’s Guide to Herbal Extracts Volume II,
Terry Thorne, Wisteria Press
Tonics, Robert A. Barnett, Harper Collins, 1997; ISBN:
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