Hibiscus sabdariffa is an annual herb with a woody lower stem and long narrow leaves. It is thought to be native to India, Indonesia, Malaysia and West Africa. Sabdariffa is also known as roselle, karkade, jelly okra, Java jute, Jamaican sorrel and Florida cranberry.
Roselle’s flowers are pale yellow with deep red or purple coloured centres. A fleshy, fruit calyx forms once the flowers have bloomed and withered. The fruit’s kidney shaped seeds are encased within the calyx.
The calyxes are harvested by hand in the autumn, and the juicy outer covering is separated from the seed pods. They are left to dry, processed immediately or sold fresh; the seed pods are opened to process the seeds.
All above ground parts of the roselle have been used and valued for centuries in traditional herbal medicine; The roselle has long been used in herbal medicines, particularly in Indian Ayurveda, Thai traditions, Mexico and parts of Africa.
The plant contains some of the same flavonoids, polyphenols and anthocyanins as red wine. Taken internally these antioxidants have been shown to lower bad cholesterol and blood pressure.
We use hibiscus extract in our Godiva shampoo bar to soothe the scalp and soften the hair follicles.