Scientific Name(s): Hibiscus sabdariffa L. Family: Malvaceae (mallows)
Botanically speaking, its Hibiscus sabdariffa L. (family Malvaceae) and it’s the bushy sabdariffa that produces the edible products.
The edible parts used to make “juice” or tea or jams or jelly (actually, an infusion) look like reddish dried-up buds. In fact, they’re not flowers but calyces. It’s the calyx, the red, fleshy covering enclosing the flower’s seed pod, which is used for flavoring, cooking and food.
According to the book “Healing Herbal Teas,” fresh hibiscus flowers contain around 6.7 mg of ascorbic acid, a form of vitamin C, which is one of the more essential nutrients needed by the body. Along with this significantly beneficial substance, hibiscus is known to have anti-inflammatory and mild anti-bacterial properties. Thus hibiscus tea is often used as a supplement to help treat coughs and colds. Because of its cooling effect, it is especially effective in reducing the discomfort of fevers that may accompany such ailments. Coloring. The flower of this variety of sabdariffa is yellow, white or light pink.