Pulchritude: Hibiscus (Roselle)

Though highly renowned for their beauty, Hibiscus flowers are prevalently used in beverages in various tropical countries across the globe.  The genus Hibiscus contains over 220 species of flowers, however, one of the most widely used hibiscus flowers in food, teas, and cosmetics is Hibiscus sabdariffa.  Native to west Africa, Hibiscus sabdariffa is considered an herb or dwarf shrub and grows between 7-8 feet tall with leaves that grow 3-6 inches in length.   Also known as the roselle, its leaves grow 3-4 inches in diameter with leaves that are white to pale yellow with dark red at the base of the petals. The roselle matures within 6 months, when its sepals enlarge to 1.2-1.4 inches and are deep red in color.  Hibiscus sabdariffa is popular in various tropical countries where it is also used for medicinal purposes and to make bast fibre.  Roselle is high in antioxidants and has hypotension properties.

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