Roselle or Hibiscus sabdariffa is commonly used to flavor tea and can be served hot or cold. You can also make syrups and jam with it and even eat the leaves in salads or sauteed. I’ve even seen recipes for tacos and enchiladas using the calyxes.
Growing Hibiscus sabdariffa
Roselle is native to Africa, but can easily be grown from seed in USDA zones 8-11, which includes Phoenix, Arizona. Just plant the seeds in March and water on a regular basis. You will want to give it a lot of room as the bush can grow to be at least 9 ft wide. They like well draining soil and will thrive in our hot dry weather. The flowers will start blooming in August/September and they will turn into bright red calyxes.
When the calyxes are nice and shiny and bright you will cut them off the stem. You can hand peel the petals off or cut around the bottom and pop out the round immature seed ball. (Keep the seed pod if you want to make jam) You can then dry the petals to use later for tea or use right away for jam or other cooked recipes.
If you want to save seeds for next year, let some calyxes dry on the plant and the seed pod will dry up and pop open when ready to harvest. Store in a cool dry place until the following March.
The hibiscus sabdriffa is susceptible to frost, so normally it will die back in the winter time, but depending on the temperature in your yard and if you can protect it with a heat source and frost cloth, it may survive to go on another year.
Click here for my recipe to make jam using the calyxes from Roselle Hibiscus.