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Products > Hibiscus sabdariffa
 
Hibiscus sabdariffa - Roselle
   

 
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Malvaceae (w/Bombacaceae & Sterculeacea)
Origin: Angola (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: White
Bloomtime: Summer/Fall
Height: 4-6 feet
Width: 2-4 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Irrigation (H2O Info): Medium Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 25-30° F
Hibiscus sabdariffa (Roselle) - A tender perennial upright subshrub often treated as an annual with rapid growth to 3 to 6 feet tall by about half the width with 3 to 5 inch long green maple like leaves that are deeply 3 or 5 lobed. In other climates the flowering tends to be later in fall but here in coastal California flowering commences in early summer with the showy 3 inch wide flowers having white to pale yellow petals with a strong red eye and a swollen red calyx at its base. Each flower lasts but for one day but is replaced by subsequent blooms so that the plant is showy for several months. Plant in full sun and irrigate regularly. Hardy to 25 °F. The early cultivation of Hibiscus sabdariffa makes it difficult to ascertain its habitat of origin but it is thought that it came from West Africa and possibly around Angola. The name Hibiscus comes from the Greek 'hibiskos' which was used for marsh mallow and was possibly derived from the ibis, a stork that is noted as feeding on some species of mallow. Though originating in Africa the specific epithet comes from a West Indian vernacular name for this species as this plant made its way there with the African slave trade as early as the 16th century, where the stems were used for the production of bast and the deep magenta-colored calyces of the flowers for a tea known as carcade, which later became more widely known as Roselle or saríl or Jamaica (flor de Jamaica) as it spread into Central America and also as sorrel in English-speaking areas of the Caribbean. This tea was drank both hot and cold and has a tart, cranberry-like flavor. In Senegal, in tropical western Africa this teas is known as Bissap and is considered the national drink. The dried calyces, sold as Flor de Jamaica, are available in health food and Hispanic food stores in the U.S. for making the tea or cold drink commonly here called Jamaica. Other common names for this plant include Maple-Leaf Hibiscus, Florida Cranberry and October Hibiscus.  The information presented on this page is based on research we have conducted about this plant in our library and from reliable online sources. We also consider observations of it growing in our nursery crops, as well as in the nursery's garden and those in other gardens we visit. We will incorporate comments that we receive from others and welcome getting feedback from anyone who may have additional information, particularly if they include cultural information that would aid others in growing Hibiscus sabdariffa.