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Roselle (plant)

(Redirected from Hibiscus sabdariffa)

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Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is a species of Hibiscus probably native to West Africa,<ref>"Roselle" Encyclopædia Britannica</ref> used for the production of bast fibre and as an infusion, in which it may be known as carcade. It is an annual or perennial herb or woody-based subshrub, growing to Template:Convert tall. The leaves are deeply three- to five-lobed, Template:Convert long, arranged alternately on the stems.

The flowers are Template:Convert in diameter, white to pale yellow with a dark red spot at the base of each petal, and have a stout fleshy calyx at the base, Template:Convert wide, enlarging to Template:Convert, fleshy and bright red as the fruit matures. They take about six months to mature.


Roselle capsule.
Roselle plant at Wave Hill

The roselle is known as the rosella or rosella fruit in Australia. It is known as Belchanda among Nepalese, Tengamora among Assamese, Gal•da among Garos, Amile among Chakmas, Hanserong among Karbi, Sougri among Meitei and mwita among the Bodos. The Atongs call it "dachang" or "datchang". It is called as "gongura" by Telugu-speaking people from India. It also has a local name Saril or flor de Jamaica in Central America.

  • In Chinese, roselle is known as luo shen hua (洛神花).
  • In Thai, roselle is known as grà jíap. Kraceī́yb (กระเจี๊ยบ).
  • In Burmese, roselle is known as chin baung (ချဉ်ပေါင်).


The plant is primarily cultivated for the production of bast fibre from the stem. The fibre may be used as a substitute for jute in making burlap.<ref name="www_hort_purdue_edu1">Template:Cite web</ref> Hibiscus, specifically roselle, has been used in folk medicine as a diuretic and mild laxative.<ref name="www_drugs_com">Template:Cite web</ref>

The red calyces of the plant are increasingly exported to the United States and Europe, particularly Germany, where they are used as food colourings. It can be found in markets (as flowers or syrup) in places, such as France, where there are Senegalese immigrant communities.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref> The green leaves are used like a spicy version of spinach. They give flavour to the Senegalese fish and rice dish thieboudienne. Proper records are not kept, but the Senegalese government estimates national production and consumption at Template:Convert per year.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref> In Burma their green leaves are the main ingredient in chin baung kyaw curry.<ref>How to eat hibiscus like the Burmese</ref>

Brazilians attribute stomachic, emollient, and resolutive properties to the bitter roots.<ref>Purdue University, Center for New Crops, Roselle</ref>


In Maharashtra, roselle is called Ambadi. The Ambadi leaves are mixed with green chillies, salt, some garlic to prepare a chutney which is served with Jowar or bajra made bhakri. This is eaten by Farmers as breakfast to start their day. A dry vegetable or Sukhi Sabzi made of Ambadi leaves tastes good with Bhakri.Template:According to whom

In Andhra cuisine, roselle is called gongura and is extensively used. The leaves are steamed with lentils and cooked with dal. Another unique dish is prepared by mixing fried leaves with spices and made into a gongura pacchadi, the most famous dish of Andhra cuisine, often described as king of all Andhra foods.Template:Citation needed

In Burmese cuisine, called chin baung ywet (lit. sour leaf), the roselle is widely used and considered affordable. It is perhaps the most widely eaten and popular vegetable in Burma.<ref>Template:Cite news</ref> The leaves are fried with garlic, dried or fresh prawns and green chili or cooked with fish. A light soup made from roselle leaves and dried prawn stock is also a popular dish.

Among the Paites tribe of the Manipur Hibiscus sabdariffa and Hibiscus cannabinus locally known as anthuk are cooked along with chicken, fish, crab or pork or any meat, and cooked as a soup as one of their traditional cuisines.<ref>https://www.zomidaily.org/kelsa-hau-za-cin/</ref> In the Khasi Hills of Meghalaya, the plant is locally known as jajew, and the leaves are used in local cuisine, cooked with both dried and fresh fish. The Bodos of north east India cook its leaves with fish, shrimp or pork which is much relished. Sometimes they add native lye called karwi to bring down its tartness and add flavour.

In the Philippines, the leaves and flowers are used to add sourness to the chicken dish tinola (chicken stew).Template:Citation needed

In Vietnam, the young leaves, stems and fruits are used for cooking soups with fish or eel.<ref>Template:Cite book</ref>

In Mali, the dried and ground leaves, also called djissima, are commonly used in Songhaï cuisine, in the regions of Timbuktu, Gao and their surroundings. It is the main ingredient in at least two dishes, one called djissima-gounday, where rice is slowly cooked in a broth containing the leaves and lamb, and the other dish is called djissima-mafé, where the leaves are cooked in a tomato sauce, also including lamb. Note that djissima-gounday is also considered an affordable dish.


See also Hibiscus tea

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A roselle drink

In the Caribbean, sorrel drink is made from sepals of the roselle. It is prepared by boiling dried sepals and calyces of the sorrel/flower of the plant in water for 8 to 10 minutes (or until the water turns red), then adding sugar. It is often served chilled. This is done in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Antigua, Barbados, Belize, St. Lucia, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica and St. Kitts and Nevis where it is called sorrel. The drink is one of several inexpensive beverages (aguas frescas) commonly consumed in Mexico and Central America; they are typically made from fresh fruits, juices or extracts. In Mexican restaurants in the US, the beverage is sometimes known simply as Jamaica (Template:IPA-es HAH-MY-CAH). It is very popular in Trinidad and Tobago especially as a seasonal drink at Christmas where cinnamon, cloves and bay leaves are preferred to ginger.<ref>[1]</ref> It is also popular in Jamaica, usually flavored with rum.

In Mali, Senegal, The Gambia, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Benin calyces are used to prepare cold, sweet drinks popular in social events, often mixed with mint leaves, dissolved menthol candy, and/or fruit flavors.

The Middle Eastern and Sudanese "Karkade" (كركديه) is a cold drink made by soaking the dried Karkade calyces in cold water overnight in a refrigerator with sugar and some lemon or lime juice added. It is then consumed with or without ice cubes after the flowers have been strained.<ref>Karkadeh: A Sweet Hibiscus Tea</ref> In Lebanon, toasted pine nuts are sometimes added.

Roselle is used in Nigeria to make a refreshing drink known as Zobo and natural fruit juices of pineapple and watermelon are added. Ginger is also sometimes added to the refreshing drink.<ref>How to Make Nigerian Zobo Drink aka Zoborodo</ref>

With the advent in the U.S. of interest in south-of-the-border cuisine, the calyces are sold in bags usually labeled "flor de Jamaica" and have long been available in health food stores in the U.S. for making tea. In addition to being a popular homemade drink, Jarritos, a popular brand of Mexican soft drinks, makes a flor de Jamaica flavored carbonated beverage. Imported Jarritos can be readily found in the U.S.

In the US, a beverage known as hibiscus cooler is made from the tea, a sweetener, and sometimes juice of apple, grape or lemon. The beverage is sold by some juice companies.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

In the UK, the dried calyces and ready-made sorrel syrup are widely and cheaply available in Caribbean and Asian grocers. The fresh calyces are imported mainly during December and January to make Christmas and New Year infusions, which are often made into cocktails with rum. They are very perishable, rapidly developing fungal rot, and need to be used soon after purchase — unlike the dried product, which has a long shelf-life.

In Africa, especially the Sahel, roselle is commonly used to make a sugary herbal tea that is sold on the street. The dried flowers can be found in every market. Roselle tea is quite common in Italy where it spread during the first decades of the 20th century as a typical product of the Italian colonies. The Carib Brewery Trinidad Limited, a Trinidad and Tobago brewery, produces a 'Shandy Sorrel' in which the tea is combined with beer.

In Thailand, roselle is generally drunk as a cool drink,<ref>Thai Roselle cool drink</ref> and it can be made into a wine.

Hibiscus flowers are commonly found in commercial herbal teas, especially teas advertised as berry-flavoured, as they give a bright red colouring to the drink.

Rosella flowers are sold as wild hibiscus flowers in syrup in Australia as a gourmet product. Recipes include filling them with goats cheese; serving them on baguette slices baked with brie; and placing one plus a little syrup in a champagne flute before adding the champagne — the bubbles cause the flower to open.

Jam and preserves

In Nigeria, rosella jam has been made since colonial times and is still sold regularly at community fetes and charity stalls. It is similar in flavour to plum jam, although more acidic. It differs from other jams in that the pectin is obtained from boiling the interior buds of the rosella flowers. It is thus possible to make rosella jam with nothing but rosella buds and sugar.

In Burma, the buds of the roselle are made into 'preserved fruits' or jams. Depending on the method and the preference, the seeds are removed or included. The jams, made from roselle buds and sugar, are red and tangy.

In India, Roselle is commonly made into a type of pickle.

"Sorrel jelly" is manufactured in Trinidad.

Rosella jam is made in Queensland, Australia as a home-made or speciality product sold at fetes and other community events.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Herbal medicine (high blood pressure)

Although a 2010 meta-analysis conducted by the Cochrane hypertension group concluded "No studies were identified that met the inclusion criteria"<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref> a more recent meta-survey (2015) in the Journal of Hypertension suggests a typical reduction in blood pressure of around 7.5/3.5 units (systolic/diastolic).<ref>Template:Cite journal</ref>


Harvesting roselle planted on bris (sandy) soils in Rhu Tapai, Terengganu (September 2002)

China and Thailand are the largest producers and control much of the world supply. Thailand invested heavily in roselle production, and their product is of superior quality. China's product, with less stringent quality control practices, is less reliable and reputable.<ref>HIBISCUS Post-harvest Operations page 4</ref> The world's best roselle comes from the Sudan, but the quantity is low and poor processing hampers quality. Mexico, Egypt, Senegal, Tanzania, Mali and Jamaica are also important suppliers but production is mostly used domestically.<ref name="www_fao_org1">Template:Cite web</ref>

In the Indian subcontinent (especially in the Ganges Delta region), roselle is cultivated for vegetable fibres. Roselle is called meśta (or meshta, the ś indicating an sh sound) in the region. Most of its fibres are locally consumed. However, the fibre (as well as cuttings or butts) from the roselle plant has great demand in natural fibre using industries.

Roselle is a relatively new crop to create an industry in Malaysia. It was introduced in the early 1990s and its commercial planting was first promoted in 1993 by the Department of Agriculture in Terengganu. The planted acreage was Template:Convert in 1993 and steadily increased to peak at Template:Convert by 2000. The planted area is now less than Template:Convert annually, planted with two main varieties.Template:Citation needed Terengganu state used to be the first and the largest producer, but now the production has spread more to other states. Despite the dwindling hectarage over the past decade or so, roselle is becoming increasingly known to the general population as an important pro-health drink. To a small extent, the calyces are also processed into sweet pickle, jelly and jam.

Crop research

In the initial years, limited research work was conducted by University Malaya and Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI). Research work at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) was initiated in 1999. In many respects, the amount of research work is consideredTemplate:By whom meagre in supporting a growing roselle industry in Malaysia.

Crop genetic resources and improvement

Genetic variation is important for plant breeders to increase crop productivity. Being an introduced species in Malaysia, there is a very limited number of germplasm accessions available for breeding.

UKM maintains a working germplasm collection and conducts agronomic research and crop improvement.

Mutation breeding

Conventional hybridization is difficult to carry out in roselle due to its cleistogamous nature of reproduction. Because of this, a mutation breeding programme was initiated to generate new genetic variability.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The use of induced mutations for its improvement was initiated in 1999 in cooperation with MINT (now called Malaysian Nuclear Agency) and has produced some promising breeding lines. Roselle is a tetraploid species; thus, segregating populations require longer time to achieve fixation as compared to diploid species. In April 2009, UKM launched three new varieties named UKMR-1, UKMR-2 and UKMR-3. These new varieties were developed using Arab as the parent variety in a mutation breeding programme which started in 2006.

Natural outcrossing under local conditions

A study was conducted to estimate the amount of outcrossing under local conditions in Malaysia. It was found that outcrossing occurred at a very low rate of about 0.02%. However, this rate is much lower in comparison to estimates of natural cross-pollination of between 0.20% and 0.68% as reported in Jamaica.


The Hibiscus leaves are a good source of polyphenolic compounds. The major identified compounds include neochlorogenic acid, chlorogenic acid, cryptochlorogenic acid, caffeoylshikimic acid and flavonoid compounds such as quercetin, kaempferol and their derivatives.<ref>Zhen, Jing, et al. "Phytochemistry, antioxidant capacity, total phenolic content and anti-inflammatory activity of Hibiscus sabdariffa leaves." Food chemistry 190 (2016): 673-680</ref> The flowers are rich in anthocyanins, as well as protocatechuic acid. The dried calyces contain the flavonoids gossypetin, hibiscetine and sabdaretine. The major pigment, formerly reported as hibiscin, has been identified as daphniphylline. Small amounts of myrtillin (delphinidin 3-monoglucoside), chrysanthenin (cyanidin 3-monoglucoside), and delphinidin are present. Roselle seeds are a good source of lipid-soluble antioxidants, particularly gamma-tocopherol.<ref>Mohamed R. Fernandez J. Pineda M. Aguilar M.."Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) seed oil is a rich source of gamma-tocopherol." Journal of Food Science. 72(3):S207-11, 2007 Apr.</ref>




Further reading

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  • Mohamad, O., Mohd. Nazir, B., Abdul Rahman, M. and Herman, S. (2002). Roselle: A new crop in Malaysia. Buletin PGM Dec 2002, p. 12-13.
  • Mohamad, O., Mohd. Nazir, B., Azhar, M., Gandhi, R., Shamsudin, S., Arbayana, A., Mohammad Feroz, K., Liew, S. K., Sam, C. W., Nooreliza, C. E. and Herman, S. (2002). Roselle improvement through conventional and mutation breeding. Proc. Intern. Nuclear Conf. 2002, 15-18 Oct 2002, Kuala Lumpur. 19 pp.
  • Mohamad, O., Ramadan, G., Herman, S., Halimaton Saadiah, O., Noor Baiti, A. A., Ahmad Bachtiar, B., Aminah, A., Mamot, S., and Jalifah, A. L. (2008). A promising mutant line for roselle industry in Malaysia. FAO Plant Breeding News, Edition 195. Available at http://www.fao.org/ag/AGp/agpc/doc/services/pbn/pbn-195.htm
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External links

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