Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is a species of Hibiscus native to Africa, most likely West Africa. It was in the 16th and early 17th century that it spread to the West Indies and Asia, respectively. It is used for the production of bast fiber and as an infusion, in which it may be known as carcade.
It is an annual or perennial herb or woody-based subshrub, growing to 2–2.5 m (7–8 ft) tall. The leaves are deeply three- to five-lobed, 8–15 cm (3–6 in) long, arranged alternately on the stems. The flowers are 8–10 cm (3–4 in) in diameter, white to pale yellow with a dark red spot at the base of each petal, and have a stout fleshy calyx at the base, 1–2 cm (0.39–0.79 in) wide, enlarging to 3–3.5 cm (1.2–1.4 in), fleshy and bright red as the fruit matures. They take about six months to mature.
The plant is primarily cultivated for the production of bast fibre used in cordage, made from its stem. The fibre may be used as a substitute for jute in making burlap. Hibiscus, specifically roselle, has been used in folk medicine as a diuretic and mild laxative. The red calyces of the plant are increasingly exported to the United States and Europe, particularly Germany, where they are used as food colourings. It can be found in markets (as flowers or syrup) in places, such as France, where there are Senegalese immigrant communities. The green leaves are used like a spicy version of spinach. They give flavour to the Senegalese fish and rice dish thieboudienne. Proper records are not kept, but the Senegalese government estimates national production and consumption at 700 t (770 short tons) per year. In Myanmar, their green leaves are the main ingredient in chin baung kyaw curry. Brazilians attribute stomachic, emollient, and resolutive properties to the bitter roots.
China and Thailand are the largest producers and control much of the world supply. The world's best roselle comes from Sudan and Nigeria, b. Mexico, Egypt, Senegal, Tanzania, Mali and Jamaica are also important suppliers, but production is mostly used domestically. In the Indian subcontinent (especially in the Ganges Delta region), roselle is cultivated for vegetable fibers. Roselle is called meśta in the region. Most of its fibers are locally consumed. However, the fiber (as well as cuttings or butts) from the roselle plant has great demand in natural fiber using industries. [Source]
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