Hibiscus sabdariffa L.

Hibiscus sabdariffa L.




Hibiscus digitatus Cay.

Vernacular Names


Asam susur.


Roselle, red sorrel, Indian sorrel, Jamaican sorrel.


Gamet walanda (Sunda), kasturi roriha (Ternate).


Roselle (Tagalog), kubab (Ifugao), talingisag (Subanon).


Slök chuu.


Sômz ph'oox dii.


Krachiap-daeng (Cen­tral), krachiap-prieo (Central), phakkengkheng (Northern).


B[uj]p gi[aas]m.


Oseille de Guinee, roselle.

Geographical Distributions

Al­though not known with certainty, Hibiscus sabdariffa is most probably of African origin, where it seems to have been domesticated originally from its seeds. The use of the leaves and the fleshy calyx devel­oped much later and these vegetable types were introduced into America and India in the 17th Century. It was in Asia that types suitable for the production of fibres were selected. Hibiscus sabdariffa now has pantropical distribution, usually in cultivation, and sometimes as an escape.


Hibiscus sabdariffa is a robust annual, erect, herb that can grow up to 4 m tall and often with much anthocyanin in the green parts. The stem is often woody at the base.

The leaves are sim­ple, alternately arranged, polymorphic, measuring 8-15 cm x 6-14 cm and with a nectary on the midrib beneath. The lower leaves are often undivided and ovate while the upper leaves are palmately 3-5-parted with lance-shaped segments. The petiole is 4-12 cm long.

The flowers are solitary, axillary and showy, yellow or pink with a dark purple basal spot. There are 7-10 epicalyx segments which are without an appendage, reddish, linear and usually fleshy. The sepal is 5-lobed, measures 1-2 cm long, with a nectary on the costae outside, usually becomes large and fleshy after anthesis, accrescent to 5 cm and closely en­velopes the capsule. It is dark purple or red. The flower is with 5 petals which are not widely open, pale yellow or pale pink and with dark purple basal spot. The staminal column is erect, measures 1.5-2 cm long and bearing anthers al­most from the base. The 5 style-arms are short where each of them end­s in a discoid stigma.

The fruit is an ovoid capsule, measuring 2-2.5 cm x 1.5-2.5 cm, obtuse, hairy, many-seed­ed and dehiscent by 5 valves.

The seed is kidney-shaped, measures 4-7 mm long, blackish brown and hairy.

Ecology / Cultivation

Hibiscus sabdariffa is a short-day plant and is often used as a laboratory plant in the study of photoperiod sensitivity. It requires 12-121/2 hours day length for flowering and fruiting; in Java (6-8°S), usually no flowering is observed during the period of December-March. The length of the vegetative period can thus be manipulated through the sowing date. Hibiscus sabdariffa tolerates a wide range of soil conditions, but for economic yields, soils should be well-supplied with organic materi­al and essential nutrients. It is reasonably drought resistant.

Line Drawing / Photograph


Read more

1) Cultivation

2) Safety

3) Western Herbs


  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 8: Vegetables.