A refreshing and very popular beverage can be made by boiling the calyx, sweetening it with sugar and adding ginger. Tender young leaves and stems - raw or cooked. Used in salads, as a potherb and as a seasoning in curries, they have an acid, rhubarb-like flavour. Seed - roasted and ground into a powder then used in oily soups and sauces. The roasted seeds have been used as a coffee substitute that is said to have aphrodisiac properties. Root - it is edible but very fibrousy. Mucilaginous, without very much flavour.The seed yields 20% oil. (This is probably edible[K]).
The leaves are antiscorbutic, emollient, diuretic, refrigerant, and sedative. The leaves are very mucilaginous and are used as an emollient and as a soothing cough remedy. They are used externally as a poultice on abscesses. The fruits are antiscorbutic. The flowers contain gossypetin, anthocyanin, and the glycoside hibiscin. These may have diuretic and choleretic effects, decreasing the viscosity of the blood, reducing blood pressure and stimulating intestinal peristalsis. The leaves and flowers are used internally as a tonic tea for digestive and kidney functions. Experimentally, an infusion decreases the viscosity of the blood, reduces blood pressure and stimulates intestinal peristalsis. The ripe calyces are diuretic and antiscorbutic. The succulent calyx, boiled in water, is used as a drink in the treatment of bilious attacks. The seeds are diuretic, laxative and tonic. They are used in the treatment of debility. The bitter root is aperitif and tonic. The plant is also reported to be antiseptic, aphrodisiac, astringent, cholagogue, demulcent, digestive, purgative and resolvent. It is used as a folk remedy in the treatment of abscesses, bilious conditions, cancer, cough, debility, dyspepsia, dysuria, fever, hangover, heart ailments, hypertension, neurosis, scurvy, and strangury. One report says that the plant has been shown to be of value in the treatment of arteriosclerosis and as an intestinal antiseptic, though it does not say which part of the plant is used.Simulated ingestion of the plant extract decreased the rate of absorption of alcohol, lessening the intensity of alcohol effects in chickens.
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This species is not hardy in Britain, but it can be grown as a half-hardy annual, flowering in its first year from seed. Plants are sensitive to the length of daylight and do not flower if there are more than 13 hours of light in the day. Roselle is widely cultivated in the Tropical and Sub-tropical zones for its fibre and edible calyx, there are some named varieties. Roselle is best suited to tropical climates with a well-distributed rainfall of 1500 - 2000 mm yearly, from sea-level to about 600 m altitude. It tolerates a warmer and more humid climate than kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus), but is more susceptible to damage from frost and fog. Plants exhibit marked photoperiodism, not flowering at shortening days of 13.5 hours, but flowering at 11 hours. In the United States plants do not flower until short days of late fall or early winter. Since flowering is not necessary for fibre production, long light days for 3 - 4 months is the critical factor. There are two main forms of the plant:- var. sabdariffa has red or pale yellow inflated edible calyces but a poor quality fibre; var. altissima is grown for its fibre but has inedible calyces.Plants have a deep penetrating taproot.
Problems, pests & diseases
Associations & Interactions
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Polycultures & Guilds
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This table shows all the data stored for this plant.
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