False Roselle

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

I need some colour today so I decided to pull out a photo of a false roselle (Hibiscus acetosella) flower, one of the most beautiful plants I learned about in St. Lucia.

Our friend David called it bronze roselle, but I haven’t been able to find references to that name online. I believe it is called false roselle because it is closely related to Hibiscus sabdariffa, the plant that is used to make sorrel. However, the part that is typically used to make the drink (the calyx) is small, hard and tough on this plant and didn’t seem like it would extract much flavour while the calyx on real sorrel (also called roselle) is plumper.

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

I’m planning to grow it this year but I imagine it is going to prove to be a bit of a challenge. The plant is big; David’s plants were about 5-7 feet tall. I think I’m going to have to sacrifice one of my the garbage bins I typically save for growing tomatoes. It’s also a long season plant — I’m planning to start my seeds next week to get a good jump on the season. Even if I don’t see flowers before the first frost I can’t imagine being disappointed. The deep red foliage catches the sunlight so beautifully and should pop when sat next to tall, green indeterminate tomatoes.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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4 thoughts on “False Roselle

  1. I love it. I have heard sorrel was delicious, but yet to try it. To me they look like a tiny, little octopus.

    Good luck with growing that beast of a plant! 7 feet of red foliage … will be amazing.

  2. Sorrel is delicious! It’s the traditional drink at Christmas in Jamaica and there is nothing like it, especially with the ideal amount of ginger and white rum added, yum! I wasn’t familiar with false roselle, however, its a beauty.

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