Hibiscus is a genus of flowering plants in the mallow family, Malvaceae, that produces large, showy trumpet-shaped flowers in colours, such as white, pink, orange, purple, red and yellow. The plant is native to warm-temperate, subtropical and tropical regions in the world with over 200 different varieties in the genus. Member species are often noted for their showy flowers and are commonly known simply as hibiscus, or less widely known as rose mallow. The genus includes both annual and perennial herbaceous plants, as well as woody shrubs and small trees. The generic name is derived from the Greek word hibískos, which was the name Pedanius Dioscorides (ca. 40–90) gave to Althaea officinalis.
Hibiscus is a popular ornamental plant, as the brightly-coloured flowers tend to attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds to the garden. They can be planted individually or grown as a hedge or border plant in the garden. Plant Hibiscus in full sun.
Fun flower facts about the Hibiscus:
• The flower is edible and has a tangy citrusy taste.
• Dried hibiscus is considered a delicacy in Mexico.
• The roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is used as a vegetable.
• Certain species of hibiscus are also beginning to be used more widely as a natural source of food coloring (E163), and replacement of Red #3 / E127.
• Approximately 15-30 percent of the hibiscus plant is made up of plant acids, including citric acid, malic acid, tartaric acid and allo-hydroxycitric acid lactone — i.e. hibiscus acid, which is unique to hibiscus. Other chemical constituents are many; however, some of the most important include alkaloids, anthocyanins, and quercetin.
• Many countries from around the world use hibiscus to make teas and other tasty beverages. Hibiscus tea contains vitamin C and other minerals. Hibiscus tea also contains bioflavonoids, which are believed to help prevent an increase in LDL cholesterol, which can increase the buildup of plaque in the arteries.
• It is a popular natural diuretic.
• Study shows consuming hibiscus tea lowers blood pressure.
• In Egypt and Sudan, hibiscus is used to help maintain a normal body temperature, support heart health, and encourage fluid balance.
• North Africans have used hibiscus internally for supporting upper respiratory health including the throat and also use it topically to support skin health.
• In Europe, hibiscus has been employed to support upper respiratory health, alleviate occasional constipation, and promote proper circulation. It is commonly used in combination with lemon balm and St John’s Wort for restlessness and occasional difficulty falling asleep.
• The flower can be used to make a natural dye or food colouring.
• Hibiscus is the national flower for South Korea, Malaysia and Haiti.
• The red flower of Hibiscus is the flower of the Hindu goddess Kali.
• The flower has been used in traditional medicine in China and in the Indian traditional system of medicine, Ayurveda. White hibiscus and red hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), is considered to have medicinal properties. The roots are used to make various concoctions believed to cure ailments such as cough, hair loss or hair greying.
• An extract from the flowers of Hibiscus rosa- sinensis has been shown to function as an anti-solar agent by absorbing ultraviolet radiation.
• Tahitian and Hawaiian women can wear a single red hibiscus flower behind her right ear to let people know she is available for marriage. If the flower is worn behind the left ear, the woman is married or in a relationship.
• In Polynesia, the bark fibers can be used to make grass skirts.
• One species of Hibiscus, known as kenaf (Hibiscus cannabinus), is extensively used in paper-making.
• The leaves and the flowers can be into a paste and used as a natural shampoo.
A word of cauton: Hibiscus is not recommended for use during pregnancy. Additionally, they are not recommended while breastfeeding due to the lack of reliable information.
Safety notes: This website is not medical advice, and please check with your doctor before using plants if you are pregnant, using medications or have other health conditions.
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