Early Rosella, Roselle
(This plant is not on the Australian Noxious Weed List.)
Thought to be a native of Africa, this plant has been spread widely by early seafarers as an emergency food source and now occupies most land areas in the tropics and sub-tropics. It is regarded as naturalised in the Australian tropics.
Hibiscus sabdariffa goes by a multitude of common names – Rosella, Roselle, Rozelle, Jamaican Tea, Maple-Leaf Hibiscus, Florida Cranberry, October Hibiscus and Red Sorrell in English and doubtless many other names in other languages.
A search of the internet will produce a large amount of information on this plant, its cultivation, recipes, medicinal and other uses.
Rosella requires a growing season of six months and should be planted at the onset of warm weather in the tropics or started in a greenhouse in other areas. The climate range is from arid, dry temperate regions through sub-tropical and tropical climates. It does best in the dry season in the tropics.
A fast-growing annual, it will grow to 3 metres high and 2 metres wide in just six months. Flowering is in October which subsequently leads to a distinctive red calyx around the large seed pod. (The Calyx is formed of sepals which are the green outer coverings of a flower bud. These open to allow flower petals to emerge and then form a green base at the rear of the flower and subsequently the seed pod).
Edible parts of the plant are the flower petals for salads; the calyx for jams and sauces and dried as a tea; the young, tender leaves are cooked as spinach. Additionally, fibre from the stems is used as a substitute for jute and the petals used for making dye.
All seed is posted in bubble wrap protection.
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