Hibiscus is a large flowering plant growing from an evergreen shrub that grows up to 10 meters tall. The most commonly variety found in Bali produces large blood red, trumpet like flowers, with 5 large petals, and a yellow lobe shooting up from its center. The flowers also come in a white, blue, purple, yellow, orange and pink variety; they grow up to 6 inches wide. The red flower however has a special place in Hinduism, believed to be the flower of the goddess Kali, it’s used as an offering to her. Despite this the red flower is believed to have originated in China, with the plants name rosa-sinensis translating to Rose of China.  The plant is grown in all tropical and temperate regions of the world; some versions of this resilient plant even tolerate the cold.

Hibiscus is an edible flower with a wealth of culinary uses, from its famous tea to sweets, and desserts. The tea is a known for its tangy taste, and dark red brew. It’s popular both cold and hot, and is commonly known as Roselle. It is also used to make jelly known as agar-agar, this tangy property of the flower makes it ideal as a souring ingredient often used in Filipino cuisine.  The flower also produces fruit in the form of dry capsules containing seeds. The unique tart of this flower make it a sought after ingredient, to make interesting colourful cuisine.

Humans aren’t the only creature’s obsessed with this flower, they are the chocolate to sloths. This adorable video is sure to melt hearts. Bees are also big fans of the flower, collecting it’s sweet nectar to create tasty honeycombs. They are often planted for that very purpose, as well as to attracted humming birds, and butterflies. These properties, combined with it’s ability to grow in tight, and tough conditions make it idea for both agriculture, and decorative purposes. They are often grown in ledges of apartments in cities for this very purpose.

The flowers deep rich colours make it a popular choice for natural dyes. The versatile dye is even a popular choice for dying hair in China. To create this colourful concoction all you need is the flower and a pot of hot water. Make sure your water is filtered, bring it to a gentle simmer, and add in the hibiscus, and let it boil for around 30 minutes. Experiment and enjoy!

The red flowers special significance doesn’t just end at religion, as it is also the most commonly cultivated for medicinal use. There has been success in some studies of its use to lower blood pressure. Those looking to lose weight will also want to dig into this tangy tea, as studies have shown success in its usage to treat obesity. There is even preliminary evidence of an extract in hibiscus as being useful in cancer treatment, though there needs to be more studies done on the topic before a solid conclusion can be made. Just in case you need any more reason to be gulping down on your glass of hibiscus tea!




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