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Edible uses


Young leaves - cooked[1][2][3]. Used as a potherb or added to soups[4]. The leaves have an acid flavour like sorrel[5].

Seed - roasted or ground into a flour and made into a kind of cake[2][3][4]. Root - it is edible but very fibrousy[6]. Mucilaginous, without very much flavour[6].

An edible oil is obtained from the seed[7][4]. The yield varies from 2 - 10 tonnes per hectare[1] (or is it per acre?).



Unknown part


Material uses

Yields a fibre from the stem[8][9], a very good jute substitute though it is a bit coarser[7]. The fibre strands, which are 1.5 - 3 metres long, are used for making rope, cordage, canvas, sacking, carpet backing, nets, table cloths etc[1][9][10]. For the best quality fibre, the stems should be harvested shortly after the flowers open[11][10]. The best fibre is at the base of the stems, so hand pulling is often recommended over machine harvesting[10]. Yields of about 1.25 tonnes of fibre per hectare are average, though 2.7 tonnes has been achieved in Cuba[1][10]. The pulp from the stems has been used in making paper[10].

The seed contains between 18 and 35% of an edible semi-drying oil[7][1]. It is rather similar to groundnut oil, obtained from Arachis hypogaea[12]. The oil is also used for burning, as a lubricant and in making soap, linoleum, paints and varnishes[13][7][1][10]. The seed yield varies from 2 to 10 tonnes per acre[1] (or is it per hectare?). The stems have been used as plant supports for growing runner beans etc[10]. The soot from the stems has been used as a black pigment in dyes[10].

The stem has been used as a base for drilling fire[10].

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

The juice of the flowers, mixed with sugar and black pepper, is used in the treatment of biliousness with acidity[12].

The seeds are aphrodisiac[12]. They are added to the diet in order to promote weight increase[12]. Externally, they are used as a poultice on pains and bruises[12]. The leaves are purgative[12]. An infusion of the leaves is used in the treatment of coughs[10]. In Ayurvedic medicine, the leaves are used in the treatment of dysentery and bilious, blood and throat disorders. The powdered leaves are applied to Guinea worms in Africa[10].

The peelings from the stems have been used in the treatment of anaemia, fatigue, lassitude, etc[10].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - sow early spring in a warm greenhouse. Germination is usually fairly rapid. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. If growing them as annuals, plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer and protect them with a frame or cloche until they are growing away well. If hoping to grow them as perennials, then it is better to grow them on in the greenhouse for their first year and to plant them out in early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Overwinter them in a warm greenhouse and plant out after the last expected frosts.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Hibiscus cannabinus. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Prefers a well-drained humus rich fertile soil in full sun[14]. Tolerates most soils but prefers a light sandy soil[9]. Plants are adapted to a wide range of soils and climatic conditions[11]. Kenaf is reported to tolerate an annual precipitation in the range of 57 to 410cm, an annual temperature range of 11.1 to 27.5°C and a pH in the range of 4.3 to 8.2 (though it prefers neutral to slightly acid)[10]. The plant is frost sensitive and damaged by heavy rains with strong winds[10].

Kenaf is widely cultivated in tropical and sub-tropical areas of the world, where it is grown mainly as a fibre crop but also for its seeds and leaves[10]. It is not very hardy outdoors in Britain, it really requires a frost free climate[9]. It can, however, probably be grown as an annual. A fast-growing plant, it can be harvested in 3 - 4 months from seed[15][7]. The plant requires temperatures in the range of 15 - 25°c[16]. It succeeds as a crop as far north in N. America as Indiana, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska[17]. Plants are daylight sensitive, they remain vegetative and do not flower until the daylength is less than 12.5 hr/day. Two weeks of very cloudy days will induce flowering as daylength approaches 12.5 hr[10]. The plant has a deep-penetrating taproot with deep-seated laterals[10].

Plants, including any varieties, are partially self-fertile[10].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Hibiscus cannabinus. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Hibiscus cannabinus.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Hibiscus cannabinus
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
no shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type


    1. ? Komarov. V. L. Flora of the USSR. Israel Program for Scientific Translation (1968-00-00)
    2. ? Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World. Keigaku Publishing (1976-00-00)
    3. ? Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption. Koeltz Scientific Books ISBN 3874292169 (1984-00-00)
    4. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    5. ? 5.05.1 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
    6. ? Cribb. A. B. and J. W. Wild Food in Australia. Fontana ISBN 0-00-634436-4 (1976-00-00)
    7. ? Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
    8. ? 8.08.1 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    9. ? ? Encyclopaedia Britannica. 15th edition. ()
    10. ? 10.0010.0110.0210.0310.0410.0510.0610.0710.0810.0910.1010.1110.1210.1310.1410.1510.1610.1710.1810.19 Duke. J. Handbook of Energy Crops - (1983-00-00)
    11. ? Hill. A. F. Economic Botany. The Maple Press (1952-00-00)
    12. ? Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement). Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi. (1986-00-00)
    13. ? 13.013.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    14. ? 14.014.1 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    15. ? ? Flora Europaea Cambridge University Press (1964-00-00)
    16. ? Buchanan. R. A Weavers Garden. ()
    17. ? Natural Food Institute, Wonder Crops. 1987. ()
    18. ? [Flora of China] (1994-00-00)

    Facts about "Hibiscus cannabinus"RDF feed
    Article is incompleteYes +
    Article requires citationsNo +
    Article requires cleanupYes +
    Belongs to familyMalvaceae +
    Belongs to genusHibiscus +
    Has binomial nameHibiscus cannabinus +
    Has common nameKenaf +
    Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
    Has edible partFlowers +, Leaves +, Unknown part +, Root + and Seed +
    Has edible useUnknown use + and Oil +
    Has fertility typeSelf fertile + and Insects +
    Has flowers of typeHermaphrodite +
    Has growth rateVigorous +
    Has hardiness zone10 +
    Has lifecycle typeAnnual + and Perennial +
    Has material partUnknown part +
    Has material useDye +, Fibre +, Friction sticks +, Oil + and Plant support +
    Has mature height1.8 +
    Has medicinal partUnknown part +
    Has medicinal useAntibilious +, Aphrodisiac +, Poultice + and Purgative +
    Has search namehibiscus cannabinus + and kenaf +
    Has shade toleranceNo shade +
    Has soil ph preferenceAcid +, Neutral + and Alkaline +
    Has soil texture preferenceSandy +, Loamy + and Clay +
    Has soil water retention preferenceWell drained +
    Has sun preferenceFull sun +
    Has taxonomic rankSpecies +
    Has taxonomy nameHibiscus cannabinus +
    Has water requirementsmoderate +
    Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
    PFAF cultivation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF edible use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF material use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF medicinal use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF propagation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF toxicity notes migratedYes +
    Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
    Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +
    Has subobjectThis property is a special property in this wiki.Hibiscus cannabinus +, Hibiscus cannabinus +, Hibiscus cannabinus +, Hibiscus cannabinus +, Hibiscus cannabinus +, Hibiscus cannabinus +, Hibiscus cannabinus +, Hibiscus cannabinus +, Hibiscus cannabinus +, Hibiscus cannabinus +, Hibiscus cannabinus +, Hibiscus cannabinus +, Hibiscus cannabinus + and Hibiscus cannabinus +