Flowers - raw or cooked. They can also be made into a kind of pickle or used as a purple dye for colouring foods such as preserved fruits and cooked vegetables. A nutritional analysis is available.Root - it is edible but very fibrousy. Mucilaginous, without very much flavour.
A good quality fibre is obtained from the stems. In warm sub-tropical areas the fibres can be up to 3 metres long, but in Britain they are likely to be much shorter. The fibre is used for coarse fabrics, nets and paper.Plants are often used for hedges and screens, though since they are not very cold hardy they are not suitable for this use in Britain.
The flowers are aphrodisiac, demulcent, emmenagogue, emollient and refrigerant. They are used internally in the treatment of excessive and painful menstruation, cystitis, venereal diseases, feverish illnesses, bronchial catarrh, coughs and to promote hair growth. An infusion of the flowers is given as a cooling drink to ill people. The leaves are anodyne, aperient, emollient and laxative. A decoction is used as a lotion in the treatment of fevers. The leaves and flowers are beaten into a paste and poulticed onto cancerous swellings and mumps. The flowers are used in the treatment of carbuncles, mumps, fever and sores.The root is a good source of mucilage and is used as a substitute for marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis) in the treatment of coughs and colds. A paste made from the root is used in the treament of venereal diseases.
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A very ornamental plant, it is not very frost-tolerant and needs to be grown in essentially frost-free areas. It might succeed outdoors in the very mildest areas of the country if given a very sheltered warm position. Alternatively, it might be possible to grow the plant as a tender annual by starting it off early in a warm greenhouse. If well-grown it can flower and set seed in its first year. This species grows very well in a frost-free conservatory in Northern Europe so long as it is in a sunny position and free from draughts. Plants will often lose most of their leaves in cool winters, though they will normally regenerate quickly as the warmer weather returns. The flowers of Chinese hibiscus are very important in Hindu devotional ceremonies, being sacred to the Elephant God, Ganesh. Individual flowers are short-lived, in many modern cultivars the flowers wither after 24 hours though in many of the older cultivars they can last for 48 hours.There are many named forms, selected for their ornamental value.
Problems, pests & diseases
Associations & Interactions
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Polycultures & Guilds
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