Smell of the sweet salty waves
Dancing green palm trees
closing in shrouded light –
white roses weep
in an evanescent wind-
two hummingbird dance
Tiny flower lost
Amid a sea of grass blades
Unspoken words are
the flowers of silence
Common name: China Rose, Chinese hibiscus, Ambashthaki, Bissap, Gongura, Groseille de Guinée, Guinea Sorrel, Hibisco, Hibiscus Calyx, Hibiscus sabdariffa, Jamaica Sorrel, Karkadé, Oseille de Guinée, Oseille Rouge, Pulicha Keerai, Red Sorrel, Red Tea, Rosa de Jamaica, Roselle, So
Hindi: Gurhal गुढ़ल, Manipuri: জুবা কুসুম Juba kusum
Marathi: Jaswand जासवंद, • Konkani: Dosni Phool दोस्णि फुल
Botanical name: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis
Family: Malvaceae (mallow family)
Species: H. rosa-sinensis
Hibiscus are large shrubs or small trees that produce huge, colorful, trumpet-shaped flowers over a long season. Hibiscus are deciduous shrubs with dark green leaves; the plants can grow to 15 feet tall in frost-free areas. Flowers may be up to 6 inches diameter, with colors ranging from yellow to peach to red. Hibiscus can be planted singly or grown as a hedge plant; they can also be pruned into a single-stemmed small tree.
The genus includes both annual and perennial herbaceous plants, as well as woody shrubs and small trees. The generic name is derived from the Greek word (hibískos), which was the name Pedanius Dioscorides gave to Althaea officinalis.
Hibiscus is a genus of flowering plants in the mallow family, Malvaceae. It is quite large, containing several hundred species that are native to warm-temperate, subtropical and tropical regions throughout the world. Hibiscus flower has almost 232 species species, all its varieties and forms, grows in full sun and produces large, funnel-shaped flowers with soft petals and attractive large stamens. The flowers come in a range of colors, some with veins of different colors toward the center. If your climate doesn’t allow you to grow hibiscus outdoors, you can still enjoy them in large containers that spend summers outdoors and winters indoors.
Nobody knows whether the hibiscus really is a native of China as its latin name, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, (rosa-sinensis = Chinese Rose) suggests or not. Many believe, it comes from India. The leaves are alternate, ovate to lanceolate, often with a toothed or lobed margin. The flowers are large, conspicuous with five or more petals, color from white to pink, red, orange, purple or yellow, and from 4–18 cm broad.
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is one of many plant species with a genetic characteristic known as polyploidy, in which there are more than two complete sets of chromosomes, unlike most other species. A side effect of polyploidy is a condition where the phenotype of the offspring may be quite different from the parent, or indeed any ancestor, essentially allowing possibly random expression of all (or any) of the characteristics of all the generations that have gone before. Because of this characteristic, H. rosa-sinensis has become popular with hobbyists who cross and recross varieties, creating new named varieties and holding competitions to exhibit and judge the many resulting new seedlings and often strikingly unique flowers. To add to the genetic opportunities, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis has been successfully hybridized with the cold-resistant Hibiscus moscheutos and several other North American hibiscus species, producing cold-hardy hybrids.
Flower color in certain species, such as H. mutabilis and H. tiliaceus, changes with age. The 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. It is an example of complete flowers. This plant has a coarse texture and may be upright or broad and spreading. It is often many-stemmed. Flowers are glorious and huge at their best — up to 6″ in diameter — and occur in many colors. Most are flared and have a bell shape and may be single or double, smooth or scalloped. They have a long central tube with stamens and pistils at the tip.
Hibiscus has some of the largest flowers of any plant. Rose mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos) produces the largest flowers of all hibiscus from late spring until the first frost, with some reaching 1 foot across. Flowers on the Chinese hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) come in single or double forms and can be 4 to 8 inches wide. Rose mallow thrives in USDA plant hardiness zones 5b through 11 and Chinese hibiscus in USDA zones 8a through 11.
Plant in spring, summer, or fall, spacing plants 3 to 6 feet apart. Dig a hole only as deep as the root ball and 2 to 3 times as wide. If your soil is in very poor condition, amend the soil you’ve removed from the hole with a small amount of compost. Otherwise don’t amend it at all. Carefully remove the plant from the container and set it in the hole. Fill the hole half full with soil, then water it well to settle the soil and eliminate air pockets. Let the water drain, then fill the remainder of hole with soil and water thoroughly.
Hibiscus require at least one inch of rain (or equivalent watering) each week. They like to be constantly moist, but not wet. Feed twice a month during the growing season and prune as necessary to control plant size and cut back errant branches. Cut branches back to just above a side shoot. Hibiscus are sensitive to cold and should be protected when temperatures dip into the 30s; container-grown plants should be brought indoors. Check plants periodically for pests such as aphids, white flies, and mealybugs. Use a horticultural oil or insecticidal soap to control these pests.
National flower: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis has been cultivated for centuries in tropical Asia and is honored as the national flower of Malaysia. It grows up to 30 feet tall in warm tropical climates like Hawaii, but up to 15 feet tall in the U.S. mainland. This tropical hibiscus features single or double flowers in a full range of colors.
Two hibiscus are native to Hawaii, but only one has been named the official state flower: Hibiscus brackenridgei. This hibiscus grows as either a shrub or a tree and produces pure yellow flowers with red veining near the center and a prominent yellow stamen. It grows to 15 feet tall and 8 feet wide in USDA plant hardiness zones 10a through 11.
Resembling a bouquet of hollyhocks, rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) grows as a deciduous shrub up to 12 feet tall and 6 feet wide in USDA plant hardiness zones 5b through 11 and can also be trained into a single trunk with a treelike top or as an espalier. An evergreen tree hibiscus (Hibiscus tiliaceus) is native to tropical Asia and Polynesia. It grows 30 feet tall and wide in USDA zones 10b and 11 with 4-inch flowers that open yellow in the morning and deepen to orange by the end of each day.
Beverage: The tea made of hibiscus flowers is known by many names in many countries around the world and is served both hot and cold. The beverage is well known for its color, tanginess and flavor.
It is known as bissap in West Africa, karkadé in Egypt and Sudan, agua de jamaica in Mexico and Honduras (the flower being flor de jamaica) and gudhal (गुड़हल) in India. In Jamaica, Trinidad and many other islands in the Caribbean, the drink is known as sorrel (Hibiscus sabdariffa; not to be confused with Rumex acetosa, a species sharing the common name sorrel). Roselle is typically boiled in an enamel-coated large stock pot as most West Indians believe the metal from aluminum, steel or copper pots will destroy the natural minerals and vitamins.
In Cambodia, a cold beverage can be prepared by first steeping the petals in hot water until the colors are leached from the petals, then adding lime juice (which turns the beverage from dark brown/red to a bright red), sweeteners (sugar/honey) and finally cold water/ice cubes. In Egypt and the Middle east, hibiscus tea is known by the name “KarKadeh and is served as both a hot and a cold drink.
Food: 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. 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. In foods and beverages, hibiscus is used as a flavoring. It is also used to improve the odor, flavor, or appearance of tea mixtures.
Symbolism and culture: Hibiscus species represent nations: Hibiscus syriacus is the national flower of South Korea, and Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is the national flower of Malaysia. The hibiscus is the national flower of the Republic of Haiti. The red hibiscus is the flower of the Hindu goddess Kali, and appears frequently in depictions of her in the art of Bengal, India, often with the goddess and the flower merging in form. The hibiscus is used as an offering to goddess Kali and Lord Ganesha in Hindu worship.
In the Philippines, the gumamela (local name for hibiscus) is used by children as part of a bubble-making pastime. The flowers and leaves are crushed until the sticky juices come out. Hollow papaya stalks are then dipped into this and used as straws for blowing bubbles.
The hibiscus flower is traditionally worn by Tahitian and Hawaiian girls. If the flower is worn behind the left ear, the woman is married or in a relationship. If the flower is worn on the right, she is single or openly available for a relationship.
Hibiscus Flower Facts:
Over 200 species of Hibiscus Flowers
Hibiscus Flowers have a tart citrus taste
Hibiscus Flowers make great tea
Hibiscus Flowers last about one day
Hibiscus Flowers do not require water
The Pharoahs drank hibiscus flower tea
Hibiscus tea is popular in cocktails in the Caribbean
Hibiscus Flowers attracts hummingbirds, butterflies
High cholesterol. An early study shows that taking 1 gram daily of a specific extract of hibiscus leaves (Green Chem, Bangalore, India) does not seem to improve cholesterol levels.
High blood pressure. Some research shows that people with mild high blood pressure who drink a specific hibiscus tea (Celestial Seasonings) 3 times daily have lower blood pressure. This research is promising, but too preliminary to rely on hibiscus tea for treating high blood pressure.
Hibiscus seems to be safe for most people, but the possible side effects of hibiscus are not known. It is used for the treatment of Liver diseases, Cancer,(Numerous in vitro experiments have evaluated the effects of hibiscus flower or anthocyanin extracts against various cancer cell lines. Proposed mechanisms of action focus on antioxidant activity and the ability to induce apoptosis), Loss of appetite, Colds, Constipation, Irritated stomach, Fluid retention, Heart disease, Nerve disease. Hibiscus is used for treating upper respiratory tract pain and swelling (inflammation), and disorders of circulation; for dissolving phlegm; as a gentle laxative; and as a diuretic to increase urine output.
The tender leaves are emollient (soothing the mucus lining), diuretic (treating fluid retention), refrigerant (cooling especially if you feel the heat on hot days) also have a sedative calming effect on the whole system. The fruits are anti-scorbutic, meaning they are high in vitamin C, rosehip tea.
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.
Hibiscus tea also contains bioflavenoids, which are believed to help prevent an increase in LDL cholesterol, which can increase the build up of plaque in the arteries.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Hibiscus is UNSAFE to take during pregnancy. There is some evidence that hibiscus might start menstruation, and this could cause a miscarriage. Not enough is known about the safety of taking hibiscus during breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side, and avoid use.
Before adding hibiscus tea to your diet, consult your doctor about any preexisting health condition you may have. According to the Bastyr Center for Natural Health at the University of Pennsylvania, hibiscus tea may open and expand your blood vessels, which may increase your risk for heart disease. Drinking hibiscus tea daily may drop your systolic blood pressure by 7.2 points on average. Avoid drinking hibiscus tea if you are taking medication for hypertension and low blood pressure.
Hibiscus can interact with some medications. It has anticancer effects when taken with other anticancer agents and an additive effect when taken with antiviral agents. It decreases antimalarial efficacy of drugs such as chloroquine and quinine and alters some inflammatory agents processed by your body such as acetaminophen. If you are taking anti-inflammatory drugs, wait for at least two hours to consume hibiscus tea to avoid adverse side effects.
A sense of feeling intoxicated and hallucination are common side effects of hibiscus tea. The tea has can impair your focus and concentration. When engaging in activities that demand full alertness such as operating machinery or driving, avoid drinking hibiscus tea.
Dosage: The appropriate dose of hibiscus depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for hibiscus.