The roselle, scientifically called the Hibiscus Sabdariffa, was a plant that grew in abundance, in the past. They were highly valued for their nutritional and medicinal properties. The roselle was a common and popular plant not only in the Malabar, but also in the south and central Kerala. Today, they have become a rarity.
These plants are an excellent source of antioxidants. They are becoming a popular choice in Andhra Pradesh. Jelly, Pickles and squash can be prepared from them.
The medicinal properties of these plants include prevention of certain types of cancer and scurvy. Boiling water with the crushed leaves and stems of roselle is an effective cure for stomach aches. Bathe in hot water with these leafs in them to reduce body pain.
Roselle of two types can be found – the red ones and green ones. Of these, the red one is more popular. The fleshy calyx around the seeds is the edible part. They can be used in chutneys, pickels or curries. The calyx can also be used as a substitute for tamarind because of its sour taste. They are relatively resilient to pest or insect attacks.
To cultivate roselle, dig a trench and fill it with a mixture of soil, sand and manure. Soak the seeds in water before planting. Use pseudomonas for proper growth of these plants. Each sapling should have a space of 60 cm between them. They can also be grown in pots or grow-bags. The seeds should be sown during June-July. If proper irrigation is available, they can be planted during any season. They can be harvested from November to February. The harvest can be done within 20 days of flowering. The ripe, red ones are the most sour.