L’hibiscus

Hibiscus sabdariffa L.

Malvaceae

Hibiscus is a large perennial plant that can grow up to two meters tall and bears large pale yellow or pale pink flowers with a red-purple heart, whose fleshy calyx develops during fruiting.

It is probably native of Africa where it was domesticated 6,000 years ago in Sudan. It is now grown in all tropical areas of Asia, Africa or America. It is a species that knows many uses: food, craft and medicinal. Hibiscus is a source of income for many family farms, particularly in Africa. Few plants know as many uses as the hibiscus and we will discover some.

The leaf and young shoots are edible and have a slightly acidic taste which gives it the name of sorrel of guinea. Hibiscus leaf is an important leafy vegetable in the dry regions of West and Central Africa where it is usually eaten mixed with peanut or sesame paste. On the Nigerian plateau, fermented seeds are used to make pancakes under the name of “sorrel meat”.

The dried calices are used to prepare a tea much appreciated from Senegal to Egypt. Depending on the region, this refreshing infusion is called “karkade” or “bissap”. Its acidulous taste is due to the citric acid and vitamin C naturally present in the plant. The calices are also used in come in syrups, jellies and can serve as food coloring.

The oil extracted from the seeds is used in cooking, for example in Chad or Tanzania. It is also used in the manufacturing of soap, paints and cosmetics. The stem, which is rich in fiber, is used as jute to make ropes or bags. As for the marrow of the stem, it is used to make paper pulp.

Hibiscus is a medicinal plant widely used in traditional medicine: the calices have hypotensive and diuretic properties and the leaves contain mucilages (softening compounds) that are used for pharmaceutical and cosmetic purposes.

Hibiscus drink
(Mariam’s recipe)

Place 100g of flowers in a teapot *
Pour one liter of boiling water
Let infuse one hour
Filter with a coffee filter **
Sweeten with 3 tablespoons sugar, vanilla sugar, or honey for winter
Can be kept in the fridge for 10 days.

Drink during the day because this drink can prevent sleep if you are sensitive

* You can add other plants: mint, ginger …
**after infusion, the flowers can be eaten in a salad

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