Question about Hibiscus
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Donna Almquist
Posted on: October 16, 2000

I am hoping you can help me or lead me to a resource that may be able to answer some questions I have about Hibiscus. I make my own herbal tea and I currently purchase my hibiscus flowers from a local Maryland herb supplier. They import their hibiscus flowers from Egypt and Jamaica and the botanical name is "sabdariffa". I recently purchased a Hibiscus plant from a local Maryland nursery and it is called Lord Baltimore (Hibiscus moscheutos). It is a hardy perennial. My question is can I make tea from the flowers of the Lord Baltimore (Hibiscus moscheutos) or do I need to plant a certain variety of Hibiscus? I do not have a horticultural background so I am confused about which Hibiscus is used to make herbal tea. If I do indeed need a particular variety for tea I would like to know if you sell such a variety. Also, if you sell or know of any books on the subject of Hibiscus please let me know.

The Hibiscus that is used in beverages is Hibiscus sabdariffa. In our catalogue it is called "roselle". It is known as "rosa d’Jamaica" in Spanish.

Roselle is completely different from the Hibiscus you purchased. The ornamental Hibiscus species do not produce the fleshy, acidic calyces that are produce by the roselle flowers. It is this fleshy calyx that is used for making the characteristic red teas and beverages.

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