Hibiscus sabdariffa is a species of hibiscus, native to the old world tropics, used for the production of bast fiber and as an infusion (herbal tea). The plant is an annual or perennial herb or woody-based sub-shrub, growing up to 2-2.5 m (7-8 ft) tall. The leaves are deeply 3- 5 lobed, 8-15 cm long arranged alternatively on the stems . The flowers are 8-10 cm 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 wide, enlarging to 3-3.5 cm, fleshy and bright red as the fruit matures. It takes about 6months to mature . The plant is widely cultivated for its strong fibers and it is well known for its edibility and medicinal properties, though the calyx is the most frequently used portion of the plant, the leaves and seeds are often made into salads, curries and potherbs . They are rich in vitamins, natural carbohydrate, protein, tannins, gums and other antioxidants including minerals . The chemistry of the calyx revealed that per 100 g, it contained 49 calories, 84.5% water, 1.99 protein, 0.1 g fat, 12.3 g total carbohydrate, 2.3 g fiber, 1.2 g ash, 1.72 mg calcium, 57 mg phosphorus, 2.9 mg iron, 300 g vitamin A equivalent and 14mg ascorbic acid . Hibiscus sadariffa has common names such as “Roses of anthea’ “African mallow”, ‘Roselle’, “Rose mallow’, Indian sorrel’, “Flore de Jamaica” and Jamaica tea . Hibiscus sabdariffa is known as “Roselle” in Australia, ‘Tengamoran’ in Asam, ‘Gongura’ in Hindi, ‘Krajeab’ in Thailand, “Bissap” in Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Benin, Niger, Congo and France. ‘Wonjo’ in Gambia, ‘Torosh’ in Iran, ‘Sorrel’ in Carribean, ‘Karkade’ in Egypt, ‘Asam Paya’ in Malaysia, “Luoshen Hua’ in Chinese, ‘Lamanda’ in Zambia and “Zobo’ in Nigeria .
The fruits are surrounded by enlarged fleshy calyces containing 22-34 seeds per capsule. The seeds are dark brown in colour, 4-6cm long and about 0.025 g in weight, grow up to 2 meters and leaves vary in shape and size . There are more than 200 species in all over the world . Hibiscus sabdariffa is cultivated for leaf, seed, fleshy calyx or fiber . The plant is grown in all parts of the world; it is a native to India but was introduced to other parts of the world such as Central America, West Indies and Africa. It is highly cultivated and distributed in the northern part of Nigeria because of favourable climate . Hibiscus sabdariffa is found in tropical and subtropical regions of the world, it is cultivated for its fiber with characteristics similar to those of hemp or jute which is used to make cloth, rope and in Polynesia, grass skirts . Hibiscus sabdariffa plant parts such as seed, stem, leaves and calyces are harvested from late December to February. The harvest is timed according to ripeness of the seed. The fleshy calyces are harvested after the flower has dropped but before the seedpod has dried and opened. The more time the capsule remains on the plant after the seeds begin to ripe, the more susceptible the calyx is to sores, sun cracking and general deterioration in quality . Hibiscus sabdariffa ‘Zobo’ drink has a shelf of life normally 24 to 48 hours after which it begins to deteriorate. It is best preserved by refrigeration which will control the microorganism reaction on the drink .