Family • Malvaceae - Hibiscus sabdariffa Linn. - RED SORREL - Shan jia zi

Scientifric names

HIbiscus sabdariffa Linn.
HIbiscus digitatus Cav.
HIbiscus gossypifolius Mill.
Sabdariffa rubra Kostel

Common names

Roselle (Engl., Tag.)
Red sorrel (Engl.)
Luo shen hua (Chin.)

Other vernacular names

CHINESE: Mei gui jia, Shan jia zi.
GERMAN: Afrikanischer Eibisch, Hibiscus-Tee, Karkade-Tee, Roselle, Rote Malve.
FRENCH: Oseille de Guinée, Thé rose d’Abyssinie.
JAPANESE: Roozera, Roozeru, Rozerusou.
POLISH: Hibiskus szczawiowy, Ketmia szczawiowa.
PORTUGUESE: Caruru De Guine (Brazil), Quiabo Da Angola (Brazil), Rosela, Vinagreira.
THAI: Krachiap, Kra chiap daeng.


Roselle is an erect, branched, nearly smooth annual herb, 1 to 2 meters in height. Stems are purplish. Leaves are 8 to 12 centimeters long, variable in shape, entire or deeply 3- or 5-lobed, the lobes oblong to oblong-lanceolate. Calyx is somewhat hairy, lobes are pointed, connate below the middle, forming a fleshy cup. Corolla is pink with a dark center, about 5 centimeters long. Fruit is ovoid, pointed, hairy, about 2.5 centimeters long, enclosed by a fleshy and enlarged calyx.


Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) The effect of sour tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa) on essential hypertension / M Haji Faraji and A H Haji Tarkhani / Journ of Ethnopharmacology • Vol 65, No 3, pp 231-236, June 1999 / doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(98)00157-3

(2) Effects of Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa Linn.), a Thai Medicinal Plant, on the Mutagenicity of Various Known Mutagens in Salmonella typhimurium and on Formation of Aberrant Crypt Foci Induced by the Colon Carcinogens Azoxymethane and 2-Amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine in F344 rats / T Chewonarin et al / Food and Chemical Toxicology • Vol 37 Issue 6, pp 591-601, June 1999/ doi:10.1016/S0278-6915(99)00041-

(3) Aqueous Extract from Hibiscus sabdariffa Linnaeus Ameliorate Diabetic Nephropathy via Regulating Oxidative Status and Akt/Bad/14-3-3in an Experimental Animal Model / Shou-Chieh Wang et al / eCAM, doi:10.1093/ecam/nep181

(4) Roselle / Wikipedia

(5) Effect of Hibiscus sabdariffa calyx extract on carbon tetrachloride induced liver damage / D. Dahiru, O. J. Obi and H. Umaru / BIOKEMISTRI 15 (1): 27-33 (June 2003)

(6) Antioxidant Effect of Ethanolic Seed Extract of Hibiscus sabdariffa linn (Malvaceae) Alleviate the Toxicity Induced by Chronic Administration of Sodium Nitrate on Some Haematological Parameters in Wistars Rats / I G Bako, M A Mabrouk et al / Advance Journal of Food Science and Technology 1(1): 39-42, 2009

(7) Lactogenic study of the ethyl-acetate fraction of Hibiscus sabdariffa linn seed on pituitary prolactin level of lactating albino rats / I G Bako, A M Mabrouk, S M Abubakar, A Mohamme / IJARND,International Journal of Applied Research in Natural Products, Vol 6, No 2, 2013

– Planted for ornamental purposes and its edible calyces.
– Not spontaneous.
– Introduce post-Spanish colonization.
– Native of tropical Africa.
– Now pantropic.

• The dried calyces yield among others: cellulose, insoluble and soluble ash, tartaric acid, malic acid.
• Calyces are high in calcium, niacin, riboflavin, and iron.
• Food value per 100 g of fresh edible portion: Moisture 9.2 g, protein 1.145g. fat 2.61g, fiber 12 g, ash 6.9 g, calcium 1,263 mg, phosphorus 273.2 mg, iron 8.98 mg, carotene 0.029 mg, thiamine 0.117 mg, riboflavin 0.277 mg, niacin 3.765 mg, ascorbic acid 6.7 mg.
• The flowers yield a coloring matter that contain gossypetin, quercetin, hibiscetin and free protocatechuic acid.
• Bitter seeds contain 20% oil with 26% albuminoids.
• Leaves yield oxalic acid.

• Leaves considered emollient, stomachic, scorbutic and febrifuge.
• Seeds are diuretic and tonic.
• Flowers considered tonic and aperitive.

Parts used
Leaves and flowers.

Culinary / Nutritional
• Cultivated ornamentally and for the red and fleshy calyces that surround the fruit used for making jellies, wine and other food products. The jam, jelly, and sauce are similar in appearance and taste to cranberries.
• Young leaves used as a substitute for spinach; used in cooking of curries, meat or fish, and the native dish “sinigang.”
• In Myanmar, green leaves are the main ingredient in making chin baung kyaw curry.
• Calyces are high in calcium, niacin, riboflavin, and iron.

Roselle4Rosella, Hibiscus sabdariffa - 2

• Leaves used as emollient.
• Lotion made from leaves used for sores.
• Decoction of seeds used for dysuria and strangury; for mild dyspepsia and debility.
• In Brazil, drink made from the plant, considered refrigerant and used for fevers.
• A a boiled drink prepared from the fruit and calyx, dashed with salt, pepper, asafoetida and molasses, used for biliousness.
• Fruit used as antiscorbutic.
• Seeds are diuretic and tonic.
• In Chad, infusion of calyces used for plethora, bronchitis and coughs.
• Heated leaves applied to cracks in the feet; also, to boils and ulcers to hasten healing and maturation.
• In India seed decoction used for dysuria, strangury and mild dyspepsia.

Fiber: Plant yields bast fiber from the stems; used a jute substitute in making burlap.
Coloring: Plant yields a coloring matter used for food coloring.

Study Findings
• Antihypertensive: A study evaluating the effect of sour tea (H sabdariffa) on essential hypertension showed significant lowering of both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
• Antimutagenic: A study of an 80% ethanol extract of roselle showed antimutagenic activity against MAM acetate, a colon carcinogen.
• Anti-Atherosclerotic / Hypolipidemic: A study of HB extract suggests it inhibits serum lipids and shows and anti-atherosclerotic activity.
• Nephroprotective / Diabetic Nephropathy Amelioration: Study showed HS extract possesses potential effects to ameliorate diabetic nephropathy in STZ induced type 1 diabetic rats via improving oxidative status and regulating Akt/Bad/14-3-3 signaling.
• Galactagogue / Lactogenic Effect: A study showed the seed extract of H sabdariffa possesses lactogenic activity, enhancing serum prolactin level which is the principal lactogenic hormone secreted by the anterior pituitary. Results establish the ethnomedical use of the seeds as a galactagogue. Study showed the serum prolactin level of extract-treated rats showed a dose-dependent significant increase when compared to the control group.
• Anti-Hyperammonemia: A study showed administration of extract of HS altered the activities of the liver marker enzymes in ammonium chloride-induced hyperammonemic rats.
• Antihypertensive / Seed: Study showed the aqueous seed extract of HS produced a significant reduction in cat blood pressure.
• Antioxidant: A study showed the protective role of extract of HS against lipid peroxidation and suggests an antioxidant potential to be used for therapeutic purposes.
• Hypolipidemic: A study of HS dried calyx ethanolic extract on the serum lipid profile of Sprague-Dawley rats showed triacylglycerols and LDL levels to be significantly less in all groups. All groups had lower cholesterol levels compared to control. No significant results were found on the HDL levels
• Antiviral / Anti-Measles Virus: A study of leaf extracts of red and green leaved Hibiscus sabdariffa showed antiviral activities against the Measles Virus.
• Hepatoprotective: A study of the aqueous ethanol extract of the calyx of Hibiscus sabdariffa on carbon tetrachloride-induced liver damage showed healing of oxidative liver damage as determined by serum enzyme levels and liver thiobarbituric acid reactive substances levels.
• Antioxidant / Seeds: Study investigated the antioxidant activity of an ethanolic seed extract of H sabdariffa in toxicity induced by chronic administration of sodium nitrate in wistar rats. Results showed alleviation of induced toxicity by the antioxidant effect of HS. Substantial amounts of Vitamin E and Vitamin C in the seed oil observed on preliminary phytochemical screening may be responsible for the antioxidant effect.
• Anti-Obesity: Study investigated the effect of a calyx extract on fat absorption-excretion and body weight in rats. Results showed a significant increase in the amount of fatty acid in the feces. The components of the Hs extract at the intermediate and higher concentrations could be considered possible antiobesity agents.
• Staining Effect: Roselle extract shows reasonable potential as a candidate nuclear stain especially when modanted with iron alum or mordanted with potassium alum and acidified with acetic acid.
• Safety Study: Study concludes Hibiscus sabdariffa is probably a safe medicinal plant, short-term administration of the HS did not show harmful effects on body water and electrolyte levels.
• Review / Hypertension Study / No Effect: Current trials of HS in reducing high blood pressure were poor. Four randomized controlled studies do not provide reliable evidence to support recommending HS for the treatment of primary hypertension in adults.
• Lactogenic Study / Prolactin Effect: Study evaluated the effect of an ethyl acetate fraction of seed on pituitary prolactin and milk production in albino rats. Results showed a significant increase in prolactin level. Results infer the EA seed fraction has lactogenic activity, increasing pituitary prolactin level and milk production in lactating female albino rats.

Teas and extracts in the cybermarket.