Hibiscus sabdariffa

Hibiscus sabdariffa L.

Common Names: Sorrell, Roselle, Florida Cranberry, October Hibiscus, Jamaican Tea, Red Sorrell

Family: Malvaceae

Habit: Hibiscus sabdariffa grows as an annual to short lived perennial to 2 m in height.  The leaves are arranged alternately, to 15 cm long, ovate with an acute/acuminate leaf apex, 3 – 5 lobed, crenate margin and rounded leaf base.  Leaves and stems with a distinct maroon red color.

The complete, perfect, actinomorphic flowers are solitary or in pairs in leaf axils. Flowers subtended by 7 – 9 green bracts. The calyx has 5 red, fused sepals forming a fleshy shallow cup. The corolla has 5 red with yellow petals. There are numerous stamens that are fused forming a tube around the style. The ovary is superior with 5 locules and numerous ovules.  The fruit is a woody capsule that is brown at maturity breaking apart rather than splitting along suture lines.

Habitat: Hibiscus sabdariffa grows in Human Altered environments (yards and gardens).

Distribution: Hibiscus sabdariffa is NOT native to the Lucayan Archipelago but now occurs on many islands.  It is native to west Africa but has been grown around the world since the 16th century.

Medicinal/Cultural/Economic usage: Hibiscus sabdariffa is not known to be used medicinally in the Lucayan Archipelago.

It is grown for the flowers and fruits which can be used to make teas as well as jellies and or sweet drinks.

It has been used to treat high blood pressure but its efficacy has yet to be proven.