Hibiscus sabdariffa L.
Source: James A. Duke. 1983. Handbook of Energy Crops. unpublished.
- Folk Medicine
- Yields and Economics
- Biotic Factors
Source of a red beverage known as jamaica in Mexico (said to contain citric
acid and salts, serving as a diuretic). Calyx, called karkade in Switzerland,
a name not too different from the Arabic. Karkade is used in jams, jellies,
sauces, and wines. In the West indies and elsewhere in the Tropics the fleshy
calyces are used fresh for making roselle wine, jelly, syrup, gelatin,
refreshing beverages, pudding, and cakes, and dried roselle is used for tea,
jelly, marmalade, ices, ice-cream, sherbets, butter, pies, sauces, tarts, and
other desserts. Calyces are used in the West Indies to color and flavor rum.
Tender leaves and stalks are eaten as salad and as a pot-herb and are used for
seasoning curries. Seeds have been used as an aphrodisiac coffee substitute.
Fruits are edible (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962). Perry cites one study
showing roselle's usefulness in arteriosclerosis and as an intestinal
antiseptic (Perry, 1980). Roselle is cultivated primarily for the bast fiber
obtained from the stems. The fiber strands, up to 1.5 m long, are used for
cordage and as a substitute for jute in the manufacture of burlap.
Reported to be antiseptic, aphrodisiac, astringent, cholagogue, demulcent,
digestive, diuretic, emollient, purgative, refrigerant, resolvent, sedative,
stomachic, and tonic, roselle is a folk remedy for abscesses, bilious
conditions, cancer, cough, debility, dyspepsia, dysuria, fever, hangover, heart
ailments, hypertension, neurosis, scurvy, and strangury. The drink made by
placing, the calyx in water, is said to be a folk remedy for cancer.
Medicinally, leaves are emollient, and are much used in Guinea as a diuretic,
refrigerant, and sedative; fruits are antiscorbutic; leaves, seeds, and ripe
calyces are diuretic and antiscorbutic; and the succulent calyx, boiled in
water, is used as a drink in bilious attacks; flowers contain gossypetin,
anthocyanin, and glucoside hibiscin, which may have diuretic and choleretic
effects, decreasing the viscosity of the blood, reducing blood pressure and
stimulating intestinal peristalsis. In Burma, the seed are used for debility,
the leaves as emollient. Taiwanese regard the seed as diuretic, laxative, and
tonic. Philippines use the bitter root as an aperitive and tonic (Perry,
1980). Angolans use the mucilaginous leaves as an emollient and as a soothing
cough remedy. Central Africans poultice the leaves on abscesses. Alcoholics
might consider one item: simulated ingestion of the plant extract decreased the
rate of absorption of alcohol, lessening the intensity of alcohol effects in
chickens (Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk).
Per 100 g, the fruit contains 49 calories, 84.5% H2O, 1.9 g protein, 0.1 g fat,
12.3 g total carbohydrate, 2.3 g fiber, 1.2 g ash, 1.72 mg Ca, 57 mg P, 2.9 mg
Fe, 300 mg b-carotene equivalent, and 14 mg ascorbic acid. Per 100 g, the
leaf is reported to contain 43 calories, 85.6% H2O, 3.3 g protein,0.3 g fat,
9.2 g total carbohydrate, 1.6 g fiber, 1.6 g ash, 213 mg Ca, 93 mg P, 4.8 mg
Fe, 4135 mg b-carotene equivalent, 0.17 mg thiamine, 0.45 mg riboflavin, 1.2
mg niacin, and 54 mg ascorbic acid. The inflorescence, per 100 g, is reported
to contain 44 calories, 86.2% H2O, 1.6 g protein,O.l g fat, 11.1 g total
carbohydrate, 2.5 g fiber, 1.0 g ash, 160 mg Ca, 60 mg P, 3.8 mg Fe, 285 mg b-carotene equivalent, 0.04 mg thiamine, 0.6 mg riboflavin, 0.5 mg niacin, and
14 mg ascorbic acid (Duke and Atchley, 1984). Seeds contain 7.6% moisture,
24.0% crude protein, 22.3% fat, 15.3% fiber, 23.8% N-free extract, 7.0% ash,
0.3% Ca, 0.6% P, and 0.4% S. Seed extracted with ether contained 0.7% fat,
29.0% protein, and 32.9% N-free extract (Samy, 1980 Zeits Ernahungwiss. 19:47.)
Component acids of the seed lipids were 2.1% myristic-, 35.2% palmitic-, 2.0%
palmitoleic-, 3.4% stearic-, 34.0% oleic-, 14.4% linoleic-, and 3 unusual
HBr-reacting fatty acids (cis-12, 13-epoxy-cis-9-octadecenoic (12,13-epoxoleic)
4.5%; sterculic, 2.9%; and malvalic, 1.3%) Ahmad et al. (J. Sci. Food &
Agric. 4: 424. 1979). Salama and Ibrahim (Planta Medica 36: 221. 1979) report
on the sterols in the seed oil, 61.3% b-sitosterol, 16.5% campasterol, 5.1%
cholesterol, and 3.2% ergosterol (said to be rare in vegetable oil but the most
common mycosterol in most fungi, including yeast). Seed has properties similar
to those of cotton seed oil, and is used as a substitute for crude castor oil.
Karkade (dried-flowers minus-ovary) contains 13% of a mixture of citric and
malic acid, two anthocyanins gossipetin (hydroxyflavone) and hibiscin, and
0.0040.005% ascorbic acid. Petals yield the flavonal glucoside hibiscritin,
which yields a crystalline aglyconehibiscetin (C15H10O9). Flowers contain
phytosterols. The dried flower contains ca 15.3% hibiscic acid (C6H6O7). Root
contains saponins and tartaric acid. Calyces contain 6.7% proteins by fresh
weight and 7.9% by dry weight. Aspartic acid is the most common amino acid.
Dried fruits also contain vitamin C and Ca oxalate; dry petals contain flavonol
Erect, mostly branched, annual; stem to 3.5 m tall, variously colored dark
green to red; leaves alternate, glabrous, long-petiolate, palmately divided
into 37 lobes, with serrate margins; flowers large, short-peduncled, red to
yellow with dark center; capsules 5 cm long, 5.3 cm wide; root a deep
penetrating taproot. Fl. summer.
Reported from the Indochina-Indonesia to African Centers of Diversity, roselle,
or cvs thereof, is reported to tolerate high pH, laterite, low pH, nematodes,
and virus. Several cultivars are known, the best known are: 'Victor', 'Rico'
and 'Archer'. Of the botanical varieties: var. sabdariffa, has red or
pale yellow inflated edible calyces, but poor fiber; var. altissima
Webster is grown for its fiber, but has inedible calyces. (n = 18;
4n = 72, a tetraploid)
Native to Old World Tropics, probably in the East Indies; now cultivated
throughout the tropics.
Suitable for tropical climates with well-distributed rainfall of 15002000 mm
yearly, from sea-level to about 600 m altitude. Tolerates a warmer and more
humid climate than kenaf, but is more susceptible to damage from frost and fog.
Plant exhibits marked photoperiodism, not flowering at shortening days of 13.5
hours, but flowering at 11 hours. In United States plants do not flower until
short days of late fall or early winter. Since flowering is not necessary for
fiber production, long light days for 34 months is the critical factor.
Roselle requires a permeable soil, a friable sandy loam with humus being
preferable; however, it will adapt to a variety of soils. It is not shade
tolerant and must be kept weed-free. It will tolerate floods, heavy winds or
stagnant water. Ranging from Warm Temperate Moist through Tropical Wet to Very
Dry Forest Life Zones, roselle is reported to tolerate annual precipitation of
6.4 to 42.9 dm (mean of 213 cases = 17.14) annual temperature of 12.5 to
27.5°C (mean of 213 cases = 23.11) and pH of 4.5 to 8.0 (mean of 119 cases =
6.1). (Duke, 1978, 1979)
Soil preparation should be deep, about 20 cm, and thorough. Seed, 1122 kg/ha
depending upon the soil, is drilled about 15 cm by 15 cm at beginning of rainy
season, mid-April in India, planting to a depth of about 0.5 cm. Broadcasting
is not recommended because of uneven stand, land, and hence lack of uniformity
in fiber. When grown for its fiber, it is planted closely to produce long
stems with little foilage. Weeding for first month is important.
Fertilization practices vary widely. Roselle responds favorably to
applications of nitrogen, and 45 kg/ha is a safe level in India, applied in the
form of compost or mineral fertilizer in conjunction with a small quantity of
phosphate. In Java green manure (Mimosa invisa) is p;owed under before
it starts to 5 mature seeds. Also in Java the following fertilizer rates are
recommended for roselle: 80 kg N/ha, 3654 kg P2O5/ha and 75100 kg K2O/ha.
Rotations are sometimes used, the roselle, requiring several months to grow,
making the land unavailable for other crops. The practice is recommended since
the root-knot nematode, Heterodera radicicola, is a pest. A sequence of
a legume green-manure crop, then roselle and then corn is suggested. For home
gardens of roselle, seeds are sown directly in rows about May 15. After
germination, seedlings are thinned to stand 1 m apart. For larger plantings,
seeds are sown in protected seedbeds and the seedlings transplanted to 1.32.6
m apart in rows 23.3 m apart. Applications of stable manure or commercial
fertilizers are beneficial. Plants are subject to injury by root-knot
nematodes and should not be planted on land infested with these pests.
For the calyces of fruits, about 3 weeks after tile onset of flowering, the
first fruits are ready for picking. The fruit consists of the large reddish
calyces surrounding the small seed pods. Capsules are easily separated, but
need not be removed before cooking. For fiber, from planting to harvest is
about 34 months, 10 months in Indonesia. Fiber quality is best if harvested
just at flowering time. Stems are cut off at ground level, tied in bundles and
retted until the fiber is freed from the wood. Then it is washed and dried in
the sun. A skilled worker can strip 3645 kg dry clean fiber daily in this
practice. Retting is by-passed if a decorticating machine is used.
Calyx production ranges from ca 1.5 kg (Calif.) to 2 kg (Puerto Rico) to 7.5
kg/plant in South Floridia. In Hawaii, roselle intercropped with yielded
16,000 kg/ha, 19,000 kg when planted alone. Dual purpose plantings can yield
17,000 kg of herbage in 3 cutiings and later 6,300kg of calyces (Morton, 1975).
Average fiber production is 1,700 kg/ha with as much as 3,500 kg/ha reported
(Malaya). The amount of fiber in the stalks is about 5%. In Indonesia land
rent is for ten months at rate of 42,000 Rp./ha and 100 workers/ha/month are
required. Field workers are paid 60 Rp/day (July 1971). The FOB export price
to Brussels recently was 106 British pounds per long ton. Indonesians have no
problems selling all the roselle gunny bags they can make.
As a multiple-use species, roselle is often mentioned as an energy candidate,
yielding fiber, beverage, edible foliage, and an oil seed. If it is grown for
fiber, much biomass remains as residue. Crane (1949) calculates that the
extracted fiber represents only 1.37.9% of the stalk material, suggesting
residues at least 10 times more massive than the fiber. (It is not clear
whether Crane's percentages are based on dry matter or wet matter.) Crane
generalizes that fiber yields run ca 1600 kg/ha with yields in West Africa
closer to 650 kg/ha, 2100 kg/ha in Sri Lanka, 1500 in Java, and experimental
yields of 1200 to 3400 kg/ha in Malaya. Residue yields (biomass) should be
more than ten times higher.
Roselle is attacked by several fungi: Aecidium garckeanum, A.
hibiscisurattense, Alternaria macrospora, Cercospora abelmoschi, C.
malaysensis, Corynespora cassiicola, Cylindrocladium scoparium, Diplodia
hibiscina, Fusarium decemcellulare, F. sarcochroum, F. solani, F. vasinfectum,
Guignardia hibisci-sabdariffae, Irenopsis molleriana, Leveillula taurica,
Microsphaera euphorbiae, Phoma sabdariffae, Phymatotrichum omnivorum,
Phytophthora parasitica, Ph. terretris, Pythium perniciosum, Rhizocotonia
solani, Sclerotinia fuckeliana, S. sclerotiorum, Sclerotium rolfsii.
Plants attacked by leaf-spot disease are treated by spray applications of
fungicides for control. Roselle plants are also attacked by several viruses:
Leaf curl, Cotton leaf curl and Yellow vein mosaic. The bacterium, Bacillus
solanacearum, has been isolated from roselle. They are very seriously
attacked by root-knot nematodes: Meloidogyne arenaria, M. incognita acrita
and M. javanica. Among the insect pests which attack roselle
are: Anomis erosa, Chaetocnema spp., Cosmophila erosa, Dysdercus
cingulatus, D. poecilus, Drosicha townsendi, Nistora gemella, Phenacoccus
hirsutus, Pseudococcus filamentosus and Tectocoris diophthalmus.
Complete list of references for Duke, Handbook of Energy Crops
- Crane, J.C. 1949. Rosellea potentially important plant fiber. Econ. Bot. 3:89103.
- Duke, J.A. 1978. The quest for tolerant germplasm. p. 161. In: ASA Special
Symposium 32, Crop tolerance to suboptimal land conditions. Am. Soc. Agron.
- Duke, J.A. 1979. Ecosystematic data on economic plants. Quart. J. Crude Drug
- Duke, J.A. and Atchley, A.A. 1984. Proximate analysis. In: Christie, B.R.
(ed.), The handbook of plant science in agriculture. CRC Press, Inc., Boca
- Morton, J.F. 1975. Is there a safer tea? Morris Arb. Bul. 26(2):2430.
- Perry, L.M. 1980. Medicinal plants of east and southeast Asia. MIT Press,
- Watt, J.M. and Breyer-Brandwijk, M.G. 1962. The medicinal and poisonous plants
of southern and eastern Africa. 2nd ed. E.&S. Livingstone, Ltd., Edinburgh
Last update Wednesday, January 7, 1998 by aw