Edible Hibiscus - Cranberry Hibiscus
The Cranberry Hibiscus, a type of edible hibiscus, is the newest addition to our edible landscape. This burgundy beauty came into our possession a few months ago, when our friend Daniel, offered us a cutting he had carefully rooted for us. When it was ready to be transplanted he transported it in his car to deliver to us. Unfortunately, we missed each other and the drop off was not made at the appointed time. As a result resulted our dainty little sapling was left in his car for a week or so. The good news however is that once it was rescued from the heat and drought of the vehicle, it survived and is now thriving in our Palm Bay, Florida yard, a testimony to the hardiness of this African native.
Never having seen a crimson hibiscus before, I was expecting it to look like a common Florida hibiscus. However, when I first laid eyes on it, if I didn’t know better, I would have thought it was a northern red maple. The color and shape of the leaves of this hardy bush are a delight. The leaves change from a bright burgundy when they are younger to a deep green almost black/gray color as they mature. The supple leaves are inlaid with dark purple veins and lighter splotches of burgundy around the edges. The undersides are a muted, dark rosé color. The actually shape of the leaf is very much like a maple leaf: 5 fingers or lobes radiating out from a central palm.
The Cranberry Hibiscus has several alias: False Roselle, Maroon mallow, and Red-Shield hibiscus. But its official botanical name is Hibiscus Acetosella according to the University of Florida Extension Service Website. Additionally they report that the bush does well in sandy soil and is nematode and pest resistant. So far I can attest to that. Our bush is growing rapidly and is very healthy with no signs of pests or fungus. Left unpruned, the UF site says it could grow to a height of 10 feet. Likely we’ll keep it as a medium shrub in the 3-6 foot range.
As mentioned above, this bush is an edible hibiscus. Although I have yet to eat any leaves from our bush, Daniel served them in a green salad we shared one evening. The leaves added color and interest to the salad and the taste was pleasant: one guest described them as sweet, others described them as being mildly citrus like. In researching the plant it seems that the leaves can also be added to cooked dishes like stir fry, as well as boiled and made into tea. As our edible hibiscus grows more mature we’ll keep our readers posted on how we are incorporating Cranberry Hibiscus in various recipes.
Check out the picture of the whole hibiscus plant below: