ROSELLA (Hibiscus sabdariffa)

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Chindambi (Tonga) 

Where it can be found:
Native to West Africa, China and Thailand are now the largest rosella producers. The world’s best rosella comes from the Sudan, but the quantity is low. Mexico and Jamaica, Senegal, Mali, Egypt, and Tanzania are also important suppliers but production is mostly used domestically.

Rosella grows across a wide climate range from arid, dry temperate regions through subtropical and tropical regions. It normally grows best in field conditions under full sunlight, in well-drained sandy-loam soil. Mature plants are highly drought resistant but may require water during dry periods when soil moisture is depleted to the point where wilting occurs.

In the landscape, rosella may be planted in combination with other useful plants as part of a multi-layered hedge or windbreak or on contour ridges between row crops. It also makes an attractive plant to grow near the house.

What is harvested-harvesting time :
Rosella takes 4-6 months to mature and is harvested in May. Pruning the plant encourages the production of more calyces. The calyces can be harvested 15-20 days after the plant has flowered. The fruits are harvested fresh, the seed capsules are removed and the calyces are then dried if they are to be used for tea. For jam they are used fresh.

Average yield per hectare:
Yields can reach 500kg dried calyces per hectare.

Rosella calyces are high in vitamin C, anti-oxidants, calcium and iron. Rosella is known for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Recent research suggests that consumption of rosella drinks helps reduce carbohydrate absorption and lowers blood pressure, making it an important dietary supplement for people who are overweight or suffer from type 2 diabetes and hypertension.

The seeds are high in protein.

Rosella is used in food, animal feed, nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals and pharmaceuticals.

The fleshy red calyces are brewed into tea and used for making wine, juice, jam, jelly, syrup, spice, gelatine, ice cream, flavours and used as sauce or filling for pies, tarts, and other desserts. The calyces can also be merely chopped and added to fruit salads.

The young leaves and tender stems are eaten raw in salads or cooked as greens alone or in combination with other vegetables and/or with meat, often mixed with peanut or sesame paste. They are also added to curries as seasoning.

The seeds are considered excellent feed for chickens. The residue after oil extraction is valued as cattle feed when available in quantity.

Today, Rosella is attracting the attention of food and beverage manufacturers and pharmaceutical concerns. The red calyces of the plant are increasingly exported to the United States and Europe where they are used as food colourings to replace some synthetic dyes. Germany is the main importer.

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