Plant Spotlight: Hibiscus
Food, medicine, beauty… some plants just know how to do it all. This tropical plant grows easily, offers much and provides beauty to all who look her way. High levels of vitamin C, minerals, soluble fiber and antioxidants, hibiscus is great in food and beverages. As medicine it is considered one of the go-to plants for the heart. Considered very safe it can be consumed in high quantities as a tea, cooked or in its raw form and its tart taste really adds something special for a variety of foods.
FOLK LORE AND HISTORY
Deep in the forest, a beautiful flower names Hibiscus boasted her beauty to all who were near. “Oh, how beautiful I am. There is no other more beautiful than me!” She would go on and on day after day about her beauty. But one day, Mother Nature had enough and of her arrogance and vanity and sought out to teach her a lesson. Mother Nature told Hibiscus, “Because of your vanity, your beauty will only last one day. Form sun up, you be will beautiful. But when the sun goes down your beauty will fade as the dusk approaches.” From then on, the hibiscus flower has been destined to only bloom during the day, dieing into the night.
Many cultures around the world carry folk stories of the hibiscus, her beauty and what she offers the world. She is feminine in nature but a powerful healing force for all.
The whole plant is used for medicine. The root is used for coughs, colds and other infections. The leaves are mucilaginous (mucous forming) and help with inflammation and are a gentle laxative. The flowers are used for internal and external sores and can help with inflammation and lower body heat which is beneficial when fevers are present.
Hibiscus tea is a great tonic for heart disease, high cholesterol and as a general preventative against free radical stress in the body. Although the entire plant can be used the calyces are the most used part of the plant. Traditionally, tea made form the calyces is the prevalent form of herbal medicine used for the heart and nerves.
HOW WE USE HIBISCUS
The hibiscus we use are called roselle, also known as Florida Cranberry and Jamaican Sorrel. We use the calyces (sepals) of the plant after the flowers drop but before they go to seed. They provide a beautiful red color and a sweet and sour flavor for many of our bitters.