Complete Guide to Roselle

In this blog, we’ll show you the characteristics of roselle (both the fruit and the plant), the main types of roselle, its properties, its history, its main producers and importers, how it is grown, and some products made from this plant. Don’t miss it!  

What is roselle and what are its characteristics?    

Scientific nameHibiscus sabdariffa
Common nameRoselle, Hibiscus sadbariffa, Flor de Jamaica, saril.
Place of originAfrica and Asia
HabitatSubtropical and tropical climates. Great diversity of soils, preferably clayey or sandy.
DistributionAsia, Central Africa and Central America (see section on top roselle producers in the world for more information).

Characteristics of the roselle plant 

The plant and the fruit are known by the same name (roselle) even if only one part of the plant contains the flower. Likewise, the scientific name is the same for both the plant and the fruit (Hibiscus sabdariffa). It belongs to the Malvaceae genus.

Stem of roselle 

This plant has several stems that can reach 2.5 meters in height. These stems are abundant, multi-branched, smooth, and with irregular-edged leaves. Its stems are either light or dark red which tends to blend with purple, except for the varieties that produce fiber. These varieties have green or yellowish stems.

Roselle leaves 

Lower leaves are undivided, unlike the ones at the top of the plant, which are separated by 3 to 5 lobes.


Its flowers tend to be solitary and grow below the leaves, specifically in their axils; they have a fleshy texture, red wine color and reach 4 to 5 cm long; they have 5 petals with a conical shape similar to a poppy and several long thorns that are found around both the flower and the stem.

Description of the roselle fruit 

The flowers of this plant are often taken as fruit, even so, the crop has a fruit that is described as a series of capsules with 5 divisions that in some may be 6.

When the plant matures, its divisions or compartments are filled with 15 to 20 seeds that look like dark brown kidneys. These seeds have small hairs that cause itching and burning of the skin when touched; they are covered by a red, shiny, fleshy layer that is 2 to 3 cm long, and this is the element of the plant that is marketed.

Types of Roselle 

There are 16 types or varieties of roselles:

  1. H. sabdariffa altissima
  2. H. sabdariffa sabdariffa L.
  3. Rica
  4. Victor
  5. Archer
  6. Very high
  7. Early
  8. Chinese or purple
  9. Red (long and short)
  10. Giant black          
  11. Giant purple
  12. Non-acidic
  13. Creole
  14. Jerzy
  15. Sudan
  16. Chirrion

Today we focus on the first 7 types as they are the main ones.

H. sabdariffa altissima 

The common name of this variety is Roselli hemp. It is a plant with branched stems that comes from the fiber varieties because it is used for harvesting a fiber similar to jute.

H. sabdariffa sabdariffa L. 

It is a kind of tall, fibrous shrub that can reach 2 m tall and grows annually. Its stems are straight and unbranched. Within it are the subvarieties of chirrion that sometimes have thorns. It is consumed as a soft drink or infusion and is highly demanded for its medicinal benefits.


This is a plant of small height but is very productive. It has large, red-layered flowers. It comes from Nicaragua.


This variety has strong stems of intense red color. It is mostly used to produce fruits and flowers as it has a large amount of them. It also comes from Nicaragua.


This type of flower has a greenish tone in its stem and leaves, it is very strong and productive.

Altísima (highest) 

The altísima, as its name says, has a great height and is used for extracting its fiber, which is of good quality and long.


Temprano is the variety with the earliest development, hence its name. Its flowers and fruits have a good yield.

Properties and benefits of roselle 

Nutritional profile of roselle 

CompositionQuantity (gr)CDR(%)
MineralssQuantity (mg)CDR(%)
VitaminsQuantity (mg)CDR(%)
Vitamin A0.011.6%
Vitamin B10.010.9%
Vitamin B20.032.2%
Vitamin B30.310%
Vitamin B1200%
Vitamin C1213.3%

We invite you to see the nutritional table of the hibiscus flower per 100g, taken from Vegaffinity.

5 properties of roselle that you need to take advantage of 

It fights hypertension 

This plant can control and prevent mild and moderate hypertension as it encourages the relaxation of veins and arteries. It is thought that this property is caused by the anthocyanins present in this flower.

Even, some scientific research seems to show that frequent consumption of this species would have an impact similar to that of some antihypertensive drugs such as captopril. Nevertheless, it is not necessary to replace the drugs prescribed by the doctor in these cases, because more scientific evidence supporting this theory is still needed.

It protects your heart 

The roselle not only takes care of your heart by regulating blood pressure but also helps to reduce triglycerides and bad cholesterol and instead increases good cholesterol. This can happen because, thanks to this flower, the liver can omit the absorption of fatty acids. It also promotes fat burning in the body and reduces the assimilation of triglycerides in the intestine.

It reduces blood sugar 

This property is because roselle can decrease the action of certain enzymes of the pancreas and intestine that digest carbohydrates in the small intestine, thus avoiding glycemic peaks and an exaggerated production of insulin.

It helps to lose weight 

Due to its amount of polyphenols, especially anthocyanins, flavonoids and phenols such as chlorogenic acid, quercetin, galloyl, and caffeic acid, the frequent intake of roselle helps to lose weight and avoid obesity.

This may be due to the fact that the aforementioned elements help reduce sugar in the body, cause fewer carbohydrates to be absorbed in the intestine, and stimulate fat metabolism. It is also likely to control appetite because certain studies show that this plant can influence certain hormones, such as leptin and ghrelin that regulate your desire to eat.

It protects your liver 

This flower can decrease the appearance of fatty acids that occurs in the liver. Because of this, it can treat and prevent fatty liver because it improves its performance. On the other hand, roselle can increase the number of enzymes that detoxify the body, and thus liver damage would be reduced.

History and origin of roselle 

There are 4 theories regarding the origin of the roselle. The first one is held by most people, they tend to think of places like Africa in its tropical and subtropical zones as the site of origin of this plant because of its numerous appearances in Egypt, Sudan, and Senegal.

On the other hand, there are those who believe that this plant comes from Asia.

A small group of botanists indicates that this crop comes from the West Indies.

The renowned botanist H. Pittier states that the Jamaican flower has its origin in the tropical regions of both Asia and Africa (this idea would partly support the first theory) but that from there it was introduced and nationalized in the American continent.

Global industry or roselle

Know the main producers and importers of roselle in the world.   

Top Jamaican flower producers in the world  

According to FAO, more than 97,975 tons of Jamaica flowers are produced worldwide.

Among the countries that produce the most of this flower is China which occupies the first place with a percentage of 27.76% followed by India with 17.91%, in third place, we have Sudan with 9.1%, then Uganda with 8.40%, then we have Indonesia with 6.23%, Malaysia with 5.53% and finally, Mexico with 5.14%. this country is the largest producer in Latin America, here are cultivated about 19,000 hectares.

In the following chart, you can see the yield in kilograms of dry matter per hectare of Jamaican flower in most of these countries.

CountryPerformance (Kg DM/ha)

Top roselle importers in the world 

Roselle import shipments in the world are $2,200, imported by 315 buyers.

The world imports most of its rosette from China, India, and Colombia.

The top 3 roselle import markets are the United States, Costa Rica, and Indonesia. The United States is the largest importer of it and has 872 imports, followed by Costa Rica with 297 and Indonesia in third place with 258 imports.

How is roselle cultivated?   

There are a number of requirements to be taken into account when growing this plant. Below, we’ll show you what they are:   


This plant requires deep, moist, loamy, sandy, acidic soils rich in organic matter to become more productive and for its roots to expand freely. The soil should have a pH level between 4.0 and 7.5, the ideal range is 6.5.

It must not be planted in flood-prone soils because excess water could cause parasites to appear and this plant is very weak to the attacks of these pests. For this reason, it is better to choose soils that do not sink or that are slightly undulating.


Being a tropical and subtropical plant, this flower is very weak to cold and is unlikely to survive frost: it needs warm and dry climates with temperatures between 25°C and 30°C for its good development. This plant also requires a high amount of sunlight, about 11 to 12 hours a day during growth.

Roselle planting method 

Some materials needed for planting this plant are:

  • Cardboard containers
  • Jamaican flower seeds
  • Organic fertilizer
  • Soil
  • Pots
  • Water
  • 10 grams of vermiculite (substance with minerals)

Once you have these materials, you can proceed as follows:

  1. Mix the vermiculite and compost, and put this mixture in cardboard containers.
  2. Put the seeds in the containers with the mixture. Be careful with the spacing between crops. These containers will be useful when transplanting crops. It is necessary to sow the seeds in a sunny place.
  3. They should be watered abundantly to moisten the plant and to close the porosities of the soil so that it is compact.

If you live in warm climates, water the plant daily, but if not, it will be enough to water it 3 times a week.

  • Do not forget to water this plant regularly. Usually, after 5 days the first shoots begin to emerge.
  • When the plant reaches a height of about 50 cm (probably 35 days after planting), it is time to prune it so that its branches expand sideways and thus have more space to reproduce and greater uniformity in its production and development.
  • It is of great importance to make this crop weed-free, especially in the first 25 days. Weeding can be done manually or mechanically.

If you want to accelerate a little the process of plant growth and do not want to start from scratch, you can cut a branch to the plant perpendicularly. Then put the stem in a container with water and wait for the first roots to grow, which are those needed to plant a crop.

It takes 6 to 7 months for roselle to bloom.

Harvesting roselle 

Once all its flowers have appeared, wait for the flower structure to mature within about 20 to 25 days. By that time, it should have a strong red color surrounding the fruit and should be fleshy. To harvest the plant, it must be plucked in the shade.

At harvest, the flower structure is separated from the fruit manually or mechanically and the fruit is left to dry in the shade for 6 to 10 days before the seed can be harvested.

Post-harvesting roselle 

It is planted on a temporary basis, but the product obtained lasts throughout the year if stored in aerated and shaded places, preferably sealed to prevent the presence of pests.

For the leaves and flowers, it is recommended to store them from 18 months to 2 years at the most to preserve their physical, chemical, and therapeutic properties. These products cannot be stored in humid places because these places favor the presence of mildew.

Uses and products made from roselle 

Although it is best known for its flowers, the whole plant is edible and is also used to make non-food products. It can be consumed either fresh or processed. The following are some of the products that are made from this plant.

Handmade products made from roselle 


This is a refreshing violet drink typical of Senegal that is made with water, roselle, vanilla, mint, and sugar. This beverage is drunk also in countries close to Senegal such as Gambia where it is known as wanjo, in Mali as dabileni, and in Nigeria as tsobo.


This is the most commercialized part of the plant. It is consumed in:

  • Tea
  • Jellies
  • Jams
  • Liqueurs
  • Jellies
  • Pulps
  • Syrups
  • Colorants
  • Ice creams
  • Candies
  • Dressings
  • Soft drinks
  • Preserves
  • Condiments

Roselle flowers 

Its tender leaves are used and consumed in salads. They are also used to feed poultry and make organic fertilizer. If mixed with its tender stems and flowers, it can be used to prepare certain soups or sauces.

Industrial products made from roselle 


The roselle flower is widely used to make dyes for the textile industry, perfumery, cosmetics, gastronomy, handicrafts, and medicine and it is even used aesthetically as a decorative plant.

Hydrating drinks 

Thanks to its high content of mineral salts, roselle can be used for the creation of hydrating drinks for athletes or as a restorative in case of dehydration due to fever or excessive alcohol consumption.


roselle is one of a kind and a treasure that is hard to find, so be grateful if you have the opportunity to purchase this plant and have it in your home often. We hope this blog has helped you learn about all the exotic characteristics of this plant and that you are encouraged to include it in your diet to enjoy all its properties.