Archive for August 11th, 2011

Hibiscus – Hibiscus rosa-sinensis

Hibiscus flower
Hibiscus flower

Hibiscus Flowers where ever I look,
Reds and blues and the pretty white,
Freshly taken from a picture book,
They fill me with great delight…


By Bernard Shaw  

This native of SE Asia, a member of the Mallow family, is no longer known in the wild. It likes a sheltered position in full sunlight. It has a wide history of use in Africa, with records showing the Egyptian use for treatment of cardiac and nervous diseases, and described as a diuretic.


African folk medicine uses hibiscus as a diuretic, a mild laxative, in the treatment of the gallbladder, and eczema, and also to help relax the uterus. Almost all parts are used in herbal medicine:

            Flowers: aphrodisiac, demulcent, emollient

            Leaves: anodyne, aperient, emollient, laxative

            Root: emollient


Flowers and leaves are both edible. The flowers can be used to make a nice, slightly acidic, citrusy tea. They are traditionally used in this manner in Asia and in the Nile Valley of Africa. The flowers are often used as garnish. In China the leaves are often consumed much like spinach.


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. (Wikipedia)  The flowers are also used as an offering to the Lord Ganesh in Hindu worship.


It is the national flower of Malaysia. In Hawaii the flower is traditionally use by women to indicate their availability for marriage. If you want to find someone put the flower behind the right ear. If you are declaring you are taken place it behind the left ear! The native Hawaiian hibiscus (Hibiscus brackenridgei) is the Sate flower of Hawaii.


A dye is obtained from the juice of the petals, and in China it is used as shoe blackening and for mascara. Children of the Philippines use the sticky juices and hallow papaya stalks as American children use “bubbles.”