The hibiscus sabdariffa is a plant that is also known commonly as "roselle." It is a variety of hibiscus that originates in the tropics of the Old World. Hibiscus sabdariffa is an erect annual that is mostly branched. The plants grow to heights of approximately 11 feet tall, and range from red to deep green in color. Hibiscus sabdariffa has alternate leaves and large, showy flowers.
There are various different uses for the hibiscus sabdariffa plant. The plant is the source for a popular Mexican beverage that is known as "Jamaica." The beverage consists of hibiscus sabdariffa extract, as well as salts and citric acid. In the West Indies and in other regions of the tropics, the plant is used to make gelatin, jelly, roselle wine, cakes and pudding. Its stalks and leaves are also commonly used to make salad.
Hibiscus sabdariffa has many applications in traditional folk medicine, all around the world. Its leaves are emollient, and in areas like Guinea, are commonly used as sedatives and diuretics. In Taiwan, the seeds of the plant are used as a tonic, laxative and diuretic. In Central Africa, the leaves of the plant are used as poultices for abscesses.
The hibiscus sabdariffa is a shrub-like plant that has many branches. It is a broad annual that has deep green leaves that are about 6 inches in width. The leaves consist of five slender lobes. The plant's petioles, stems, leaf veins and branches are all purplish-red in color. The flowers show up in October, and are a bright yellow or red color. They are approximately 3 inches across.
Hibiscus sabdariffa thrives when cultivated under full sun. They function well with regular watering, and are propagated via seed. The plant can be grown in the United States Department of Agriculture's plant hardiness zones of 8 to 11. Hibiscus sabdariffa is prone to root knot nematodes, and as a result, they might not be able to be grown in the same spot year after year.
Due to its attractive appearance, the hibiscus sabdariffa is also commonly seen as an ornamental plant in residential landscapes. In warmer regions of the United States, such as Florida, the plant is often used as a hedge during the summer months. They are frequently planted in rows, and toward the end of the summer, form a hedge that is dense and sturdy.