Hibiscus, a beautiful flower, is a genus of the mallow family. It is less widely known as the rose mallow. The flowers can be either annual or perennial and different species are native to many different countries. Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is the national flower of Malaysia while Hibiscus syriacus is the national flower of South Korea. The hibiscus flower itself is also the national flower of Haiti and is the state flower of Hawaii. In Hindu worship, the red hibiscus flower is the flower of the goddess Kali and is used in sacrifice to her and the Lord Ganesha. Did you know that in many art depictions of the goddess Kali, the hibiscus flower is used as representation? In some, she is seen merging with the flower.
Rose mallow, or more commonly known as the hibiscus flower, is large in size, growing up to 7 inches wide, and trumpet shaped. They can have five or more petals and the colors vary greatly in difference. Its stems are woody and the leaves usually have a lobed or toothed margin. They vary in color from pink to white, purple and red, and even orange and yellow. There are several hundred hibiscus species known to exist and countless cross-species.
This flower has many different uses for many different industries including hair care and skin care. Hawaiian and Tahitian girls traditionally wear it as a symbol for their relationship status. If the flower is worn on her right ear, she is single. If worn on the left, she is in a relationship or married. In the Philippines, the local name for hibiscus is gumamela. They crush the leaves and flowers until sticky juices come out. They then dip hollow papaya stalks into the juices and use them as straws for blowing bubbles. How fun for the kids!
The two major types of hibiscus grown in the US are tropical hibiscus and hardy hibiscus. Tropical hibiscus can only be grown in the hotter parts of the country. One freeze, meaning temperatures under 25 degrees will kill them. Hardy hibiscus are able to withstand the cold and are more suitable to be grown in the parts of the country where temperatures can drop extremely low. Both have similar needs for soil however. Preferably hibiscus is planted in well drained, acidic soil.
Normally, when a hibiscus blooms, the flowers only last a few days. Hardy hibiscus can grow up to 15 feet high and be 4 to 8 feet wide, while tropical hibiscus are shorter. They generally grow from 4 to 10 feet high and have a width of 5 to 8 feet. Since tropical are grown in the hotter parts of the country, they need to be planted in sunny locations and be very well watered. Hardy hibiscus can be grown in partial shade or full sun.
Hibiscus flowers tend to attract bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies. They are also used as a food source for many moths. However, there are many pests that affect hibiscus flowers. Mites and whiteflies are two. Tropical hibiscus tend to be affected more than hardy though. Did you know there are some double flowered hibiscus flowers? However, these flowers only exist on tropical hibiscus, so they are only found in hotter climates. Pruning hibiscus plants will result in fuller looking plants. However, pruning should be done during the late winter, because pruning causes the plant to take longer for the flower buds to form.
Hibiscus Uses in Industries
In Mexico, dried hibiscus is an edible delicacy. It is used as a garnish or sometimes made into candy. Some species of hibiscus are recently being used as natural food coloring. The Hibiscus sabdariffa, more commonly known as the roselle is used as a vegetable. There is also a hibiscus tea that can be made that has many health benefits. Hibiscus tea has a very tangy flavor, can be served either hot or cold, and is known by many different names world wide. To make the tea, pour boiling water in a container with dried hibiscus flowers. Let the tea sit for about 5-10 minutes and then use a strainer to get the flowers out. There is also a cold beverage made in Cambodia that adds lime juice to the drink to turn the color even brighter.
Bath and Body Products
The hibiscus been called “the Natural Botox plant.” It can be used for many products and industries including bath and body products, foods and beverages, and many medicinal and treatment purposes. In oils and lip balm recipes, hibiscus is used to obtain a natural red pigment color. It is also used in candle making for a natural decoration.
Common products that can include hibiscus are shampoo, conditioner, baby shampoo, baby body washes, bath teas, bath bombs, massage oils, potpourri, facial masks, soaps, oils, and lip balms.
Hibiscus has many skin care properties. It evens out the textures and tones of the skin and cleanses, softens and even soothes the skin. Hibiscus is a natural and gentle cleanser which is why it can be found in many baby shampoos and body washes. In lip balms, it is great for soothing the lips. It also contains oligopeptides which have been shown to have wrinkle smoothing properties.
When used for hair care, hibiscus helps to prevent dandruff and reduce hair loss. It also is used to help thicken hair and helps with split ends. It also stimulates hair growth circulation, can help prevent premature graying, and has been used as a hair dye for natural hair.
In Chinese herbology, some research indicates that when used in cosmetics, hibiscus rosa-sinensis extract works as an anti-solar agent by absorbing ultraviolet rays.
There are many health and medicinal benefits to hibiscus. It is believed to help lower and control blood pressure and to prevent increases in LDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol causes an increase of plaque in arteries. In the traditional Indian system of medicine, Ayurveda, red and white hibiscus roots are used to make various things believed to help cure coughs and hair loss.
Hibiscus also is great for skin care. It helps to soothe the skin, helps to smooth wrinkles, and helps to create higher moisture levels. It has been used for eczema and improves skin elasticity and flexibility.
Internally, hibiscus tea has traditionally been used to treat colds and loss of appetite, and has even been used as a laxative. It can also be used as a diuretic to help lose water weight and is used to treat inflammation of the respiratory tract.
In Europe, hibiscus occasionally has been used in a combination with St. John’s Wort and lemon balm to help with difficulty going to sleep and restlessness. In Sudan and Egypt, it is used to encourage fluid balance and help maintain a healthy body temperature.
For women, hibiscus is used as stimulant for the menstruation process. However, pregnant women should avoid drinking hibiscus tea because there is the possibility that it could cause them to miscarry.
There is one species of hibiscus, Hibiscus cannabinus, or otherwise known as kenaf, that is used extensively for making paper.
A Nigerian author named Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, named her very first novel after the beautiful flower. She called it “Purple Hibiscus”.
Some forms of the flower are used to help treat sores caused by cancer.
Oil from hibiscus flowers can used as a shoe polish.
Nature’s Garden sells hibiscus for external use only. We do not sell it as a food item. The information above talks about how great hibiscus is for many industries, however we only sell it for external use. We provide this data for educational purposes only. Nothing in this article is to be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before using this product or any of this information for treatment purposes.