Pale pink hibiscus-like blossoms. Fleshy sepals, called a calyx, that can be harvested to make sauce, juice, preserves or tea. Lobed leaves that can be used for greens or in a salad. An eye-pleasing landscape plant. Continuous production until a freeze. What’s not to love?
Sometimes called Florida cranberry or red sorrel, Hibiscus sabdariffa is an annual, 5 to 7 feet in height with an equally wide sprawl. The narrow leaves and stems are reddish in color. It can be grown from seed and requires about 4 months to mature. Culture is very similar to eggplant and okra.
The calyxes are rich in carotene, riboflavin, ascorbic acid, niacin, calcium, iron and vitamin C. The seeds are a good source of protein and the leaves provide Vitamin A and calcium. Seems as though this plant could feed the world!
This year the 6 plants in our backyard garden produced enough fruit to make 20 plus pints of sauce and 18 quarts of juice. While harvesting, prep and preserving can be tedious, the result is well worth the effort.
Check out this possible addition to your garden by doing some research into this truly remarkable plant.
This article was contributed by Carolyn Kieler, a Master Gardener in Volusia County
Photo Credits: Banner photograph, derivative of Roselle 2, Hibiscus sabdariffa, 2014 by Invertzoo,CC BY-SA 4.0