by Chenel Jones

Roselle 5.jpgRoselle is a plant that is a part of the Hibiscus family. The Roselle stalk and leaves color ranges from dark-green to a rich reddish color. The plant ranges form 10-16 feet in height. The flowers can be creamy white or pale yellow. “The best climate to grow Roselle in is a rich and well drained soil, mainly in a tropical climate where the average rainfall is 10inch (25cm) each month throughout the growing season”(Encyclopedia). Roselle does not last in cold climates because it gets damage by the frost. The most effective time to grow Roselle in Southern States like Florida is in Mid-May. Blooming occurs in September, October and November, December is the harvest time. Often times you will find the imported Roselle in grocery stores in a clear package. Roselle have several different purposes some of which includes: beverages, foods and medical practices. Roselle is originated from India and was distributed to Africa at an early time. Due to this fact a lot of people think the plant is native to Africa. Depending on where in the world you are there are several names that are given to the Roselle. The Roselle is also significant to the Jamaican Culture.


Different Names

vHibiscus Sabdariffa (scientific name)
vJamaican Sorrel
vJava Jute
Origin and Distribution
Roselle 1.jpgThe Roselle is Native to India. Then it got distributed to Malaysia. The Roselle is so common in West Africa that a lot of people thought it originated from there. It later got distributed to the West Indies. From the West Indies it moved to Central America. Seed were brought from Africa to the New World. In 1707 Roselle became a common plant in Jamaica. Sometime in the 17th century it was distributed to Brazil. Before 1840 it was already in Guatemala. In Queensland Australia two factories were making Roselle jam in 1892. From Australia Roselle got imported to San Francisco in the year 1895. San Francisco later shared it with California State. The Roselle got distributed to Puerto Rico and then Hawaii in 1904. It is said the Roselle was first distributed to Florida from Jamaica in the year 1887. Panama joined in the cultivation of Roselle in the year 1928.
“Jamaica Sorrel – Hibiscus Sabdariffa – Maps – Encyclopedia of Life.”Encyclopedia of Life. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.
Roselle 3.jpgvSix weeks after transplanting cut the plant  leaving 3-4in of stem in the field.
vFour weeks after a second cut is made followed by a third after another four weeks.
vThe plants are then thinned out
vTwo of every three rows are removed and the rest is left to grow.
vWhen fruits are fully grown they can be picked by hands, in the morning is best.
vIf hardened a clipper may be used.
Food Uses

Salad Ingredients

vMake an opening around hard base of calyx below the bracts
vFree and move it with seed capsule attached
vAdd to salad

In Africa they cook it as a side dish that is eaten with pulverized peanuts.

vFilling for tarts
vAdded to Pudding
vCake Frosting
vSalad Dressing
vCan be poured over gingerbread, pancakes, waffles or ice-cream
Cultural Significance
Roselle 2.jpgRoselle or should I say Sorrel is especially significant to the West Indies. Sorrel is not something that is drank all year round. Instead they use it as a Christmas beverage. Sorrel juice is made by putting the sorrel in a container along with ginger and pimento. Then you throw some boiling water on it and let it sit overnight. It is then sweeten with sugar. Some people might add Jamaican White Rum and Wine to it. Everyone adds their own little twist to it so this is one way of doing it.
Pest and Diseases
vIn Australia the leaves are attacked by three beetles: Nisotra Breweri, Lagris Cyanea and Rhyparida Discopunctulata.
vIn Trinidad the “red” Roselles are attacked by Steiratoma Breve
vRoot-Knot Nematode (Heterodera Rudicicola)
vCocoa Beetles attacks “white” Roselles
vCocus Hesperidun and Hemichionaspis Aspidistrae attack stem and branches
vYellow Aphid (Aphis Gossypii) attacks leaves and flower buds
vCotton Stainer (Pysdercus Suturellus) attacks ripening calyces
Medical Uses

In India, Africa and Mexico all the parts above ground level are use in Native Medicine. A brew of the leave is diuretic, choleretic, febrifugal and hypotensive, which helps to decrease thickness of the blood and stimulate intestinal peristalsis. It also help to lower Blood Pressure. In 1962 Sharaf came to the conclusion that they hypotensive activity of the calyces is antispasmodic, anthelmintic and antibacterial. In Guatemala Roselle is used to get rid of effects of drunkenness. East Africa “Sudan Tea” relives coughs. Roselle juice with salt, pepper, asafetida and molasses is a remedy for nausea. Warming the leaves can to used for cracks on the feet, boils and ulcers. The lotion that is produce for the leaves is used on sores and cuts.


Nutritional Values

Calyces  (Fresh)
Moisture 9.2g
Protein 1.145g
Fat 2.61g
Fiber 12.0g
Ash 6.90g
Calcium 1263mg
Phosphorus 273.2mg
Iron 8.98mg
Carotene 0.029mg
Thiamine 0.117mg
Riboflavin 0.277mg
Niacin 3.765mg
Ascorbic Acid 6.7mg

Made in Central America


Leaves (Fresh)
Moisture 86.2%
Protein 1.7-3.2%
Fat 1.1%
Carbohydrate 10%
Ash 1%
Calcium .18%
Phosphorus 0.04%
Iron 0.0054%
Malic Acid 1.25%

Made in Guatemala

Moisture 12.9%
Protein 3.29%
Fatty Oil 16.8%
Cellulose 16.8%
Pentosan 15.8%
Starch 11.1%

Made in Philippines


Fun Fact

vRoselle is a good substitution for cranberry juice.
vThe culture of the plant is similar to eggplant and okra.
vThe main ingredient in the “Red Zinger Tea” is Roselle.
In Conclusion Roselle is common plant throughout the world. It is use as Medicines as wells as food and drinks. Is has cultural significance in the Caribbean Sea as well as Africa and some places in the Middle East. It is originated from India and spread throughout the world by the 20th century. Roselle is not just a plant it has Importance.
1.The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. “Roselle (plant).” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d.Web.14 Apr. 2014.
2.Morton, J. 1987. Roselle. p. 281-286. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, Fl. Web. 14 Apr. 2014.
3.“Roselle-Hibiscus Sabdariffa L.1.” EDIS New Publications RSS. N.p., n.d. Web.14 Apr. 2014.
4.“West African Plants.” A Photo Guide. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2014.