Friday’s Florals: Narcissus

Jonquils-025

In Greek mythology, Narcissus (/nɑrˈsɪsəs/; Greek: Νάρκισσος, Narkissos) was a Hunter from Thespiae in Boeotia who was known for his beauty. He was the son of the river god Cephissus and nymph Liriope.[1] He was proud, in that he disdained those who loved him. Nemesis noticed this behavior and attracted Narcissus to a pool, where he saw his own reflection in the water and fell in love with it, not realizing it was merely an image. Unable to leave the beauty of his reflection, Narcissus drowned. Narcissus is the origin of the term narcissism, a fixation with oneself and one’s physical appearance.

Narcissus /nɑrˈsɪsəs/ is a genus of predominantly spring perennial plants in the Amaryllidaceae (amaryllis) family. Various common names including daffodil,[notes 1] daffadowndilly, narcissus, and jonquil are used to describe all or some members of the genus. Narcissus has conspicuous flowers with six petal-like tepals surmounted by a cup- or trumpet-shaped corona. The flowers are generally white or yellow (orange or pink in garden varieties), with either uniform or contrasting coloured tepals and corona.

Narcissus were well known in ancient civilisation, both medicinally and botanically, but formally described by Linnaeus‘ in his Species Plantarum (1753). The genus is generally considered to have about ten sections with approximately 50 species. The number of species has varied, depending on how they are classified, due to similarity between species and hybridization. The genus arose some time in the Late Oligocene to Early Mioceneepochs, in the Iberian peninsula and adjacent areas of southwest Europe. The exact origin of the name Narcissus is unknown, but it is often linked to a Greek word for intoxicated (narcotic) and the myth of the youth of that name who fell in love with his own reflection. The English word ‘daffodil’ appears to be derived from “asphodel“, with which it was commonly compared.

The species are native to meadows and woods in southwest Europe and North Africa with a center of diversity in the Western Mediterranean, particularly the Iberian peninsula. Both wild and cultivated plants have naturalised widely, and were introduced into the Far East prior to the tenth century. Narcissi tend to be long-lived bulbs, which propagate by division, but are also insect-pollinated. Known pests, diseases and disorders include viruses, fungi, the larvae of flies, mites and nematodes. Some Narcissus species have become extinct, while others are threatened by increasing urbanisation and tourism.

Historical accounts suggest narcissi have been cultivated from the earliest times, but became increasingly popular in Europe after the 16th century and by the late 19th century were an important commercial crop centred primarily on the Netherlands. Today narcissi are popular as cut flowers and as ornamental plants in private and public gardens. The long history of breeding has resulted in thousands of different cultivars. For horticultural purposes, narcissi are classified into divisions, covering a wide range of shapes and colours. Like other members of their family, narcissi produce a number of different alkaloids, which provide some protection for the plant, but may be poisonous if accidentally ingested. This property has been exploited for medicinal use in traditional healing and has resulted in the production of galantamine for the treatment of Alzheimer’s dementia. Long celebrated in art and literature, narcissi are associated with a number of themes in different cultures, ranging from death to good fortune, and as symbols of Spring. The daffodil is the national flower of Wales and the symbol of cancer charities in many countries. The appearance of the wild flowers in spring is associated with festivals in many places.

Jonquils-017

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissus_(plant)

Friday's Florals

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Copyright Raewyn Forbes

Floral Friday: Toetoe

NZ native Toi Toi (1 of 1)c

Ok, this isn’t strictly a flower, but it is a native plant of New Zealand. I want to focus on native plants this month leading up to ANZAC day.

This plant is the Toetoe  and here is some info from my go-to encyclopedia – Wikipedia

Austroderia is a genus of five species of tall grasses native to New Zealand, commonly known as toetoe (sometimes misspelled as “toitoi”)[3] The species are A. toetoe, A. fulvida, A. splendens, A. richardii and A. turbaria. They were recently reclassified in 2011 from theCortaderia genus,[4][5] although their distinctiveness had been recognized as early as 1853.[6]

The name toetoe comes from the Māori language.

Two closely related South American species are Cortaderia jubata and C. selloana (Pampas Grass), which have been introduced to New Zealand and are often mistaken for toetoe. These introduced species tend to take over from the native toetoe and are regarded asinvasive weeds. Among the differences between Pampas, Toetoe has a drooping flower head, a cream coloured plume, and the leaves do not break when tugged firmly. Toetoe also has a white, waxy bloom on the leaf-sheath and conspicuous veins between the midrib and leaf margin.[3]

Common uses

The Māori used the toetoe leaves to make baskets, kites, mats, wall linings and roof thatching. It was also used to make containers to cook food in hot springs. The flower stalks were also useful – as frames for kites, and in tukutuku panelling. The seed heads themselves were used on fresh wounds to stop bleeding. Other medicinal uses included treatment of diarrhoea, kidney complaints, and burns. Toetoe is New Zealand’s largest native grass, growing in clumps up to 3m in height.

Common names

Māori names including toetoe are: toetoe-kākaho, toetoe-mokoro, toetoe-rākau. The flower stem is kākaho.[3]

Toetoe is also known by its common name ‘Toi toi’ and ‘Cutty grass’, especially amongst children, because the serrated leaf edges that can inflict cuts to the human skin. This name is also used in New Zealand to refer to Gahnia setifola (mapere) and Cyperus ustulatus(upoko tangata).

NZ native Toi Toi (2 of 1)

I have driven past these plants so often, but never stopped to take a photo of them.  On Tuesday while at Pakowhai Park I found some right at the end of the park.  It was very peaceful down there.

At least I hope I got the species right.  I have been known to be wrong.  The wind was blowing rather strong at the time I was taking these photos.

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Floral Friday: Cannas

Canna (

Cannas are very popular in New Zealand as they are very easy to grow and need little maintenance.

Canna (or canna lily, although not a true lily) is a genus of 19 species of flowering plants.[2][3][4] The closest living relations to cannas are the other plant families of the order Zingiberales, that is the Zingiberaceae (gingers), Musaceae (bananas), Marantaceae, Heliconiaceae,Strelitziaceae, etc.[5]

Canna is the only genus in the family Cannaceae. The APG II system of 2003 also recognizes the family, and assigns it to the orderZingiberales in the clade commelinids, in the monocots.

The species have large, attractive foliage, and horticulturists have turned it into a large-flowered and bright garden plant. In addition, it is one of the world’s richest starch sources, and is an agricultural plant.[5]

Although a plant of the tropics, most cultivars have been developed in temperate climates and are easy to grow in most countries of the world as long as they receive at least 6–8 hours average sunlight during the summer, and are moved to a warm location for the winter. See the Canna cultivar gallery for photographs of Canna cultivars.

The name Canna originates from the Latin word for a cane or reed.[6]

As I am researching about the flowers I am finding out how floral plants are not just decorative, but useful as well.

Uses

Detail of the seed pods and seeds: The seeds are used for jewelry and musical instruments.

  • Some species and many cultivars are widely grown in the garden in temperate and subtropical regions. Sometimes, they are also grown as potted plants. A large number of ornamental cultivars have been developed. They can be used in herbaceous borders, tropical plantings, and as a patio or decking plant.
  • Internationally, cannas are one of the most popular garden plants and a large horticultural industry depends on the plant.
  • The rhizomes of cannas are rich in starch, and it has many uses in agriculture. All of the plant has commercial value, rhizomes for starch (consumption by humans and livestock), stems and foliage for animal fodder, young shoots as a vegetable, and young seeds as an addition to tortillas.
  • The seeds are used as beads in jewelry.[14]
  • The seeds are used as the mobile elements of the kayamb, a musical instrument from Réunion, as well as the hosho, a gourd rattlefrom Zimbabwe, where the seeds are known as hota seeds.
  • In more remote regions of India, cannas are fermented to produce alcohol.[15]
  • The plant yields a fibre from the stem, which is used as a jute substitute.[16]
  • A fibre obtained from the leaves is used for making paper. The leaves are harvested in late summer after the plant has flowered, they are scraped to remove the outer skin, and are then soaked in water for two hours prior to cooking. The fibres are cooked for 24 hours with lye and then beaten in a blender. They make a light tan brown paper.[16]
  • A purple dye is obtained from the seed.[16]
  • Smoke from the burning leaves is said to be insecticidal.[16]
  • Cannas are used to extract many undesirable pollutants in a wetland environment as they have a high tolerance tocontaminants.[17][18]
  • In Thailand, cannas are a traditional gift for Father’s Day.
  • In Vietnam, canna starch is used to make cellophane noodles known as miến dong.
  • Canna leaves (1 of 1)
  • The leaves are very colourful as well. I love how the colours really stand out in the sun.
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Floral Friday: Dahlia

Dahlia

Good morning from a humid Hastings day.

So it is Friday and time to showcase my florals.  Dahlias are always such a beautiful flower.  There are so many varieties and they always put on a show.  I love them. These photos were taken at Frimley Park  last Saturday.

Dahlia

So here is some information courtesy of Wikipedia about the national flower of Mexico.

Dahlia (UK /dliə/ or US /dɑːliə/)[4] is a genus of bushy, tuberous, herbaceous perennial plants native to Mexico. A member of theAsteraceae (or Compositae), dicotyledonous plants, related species include the sunflower, daisy, chrysanthemum, and zinnia. There are 42 species of dahlia, with hybrids commonly grown as garden plants. Flower forms are variable, with one head per stem; these can be as small as 2 in (5.1 cm) diameter or up to 1 ft (30 cm) (“dinner plate”). This great variety results from dahlias being octoploids—that is, they have eight sets of homologous chromosomes, whereas most plants have only two. In addition, dahlias also contain many transposons—genetic pieces that move from place to place upon an allele—which contributes to their manifesting such great diversity.

The stems are leafy, ranging in height from as low as 12 in (30 cm) to more than 6–8 ft (1.8–2.4 m). The majority of species do not produce scented flowers or cultivars. Like most plants that do not attract pollinating insects through scent, they are brightly colored, displaying most hues, with the exception of blue.

The dahlia was declared the national flower of Mexico in 1963.[5] The tubers were grown as a food crop by the Aztecs, but this use largely died out after the Spanish Conquest. Attempts to introduce the tubers as a food crop in Europe were unsuccessful.[6]

Early history

Spaniards reported finding the plants growing in Mexico in 1525, but the earliest known description is by Francisco Hernández, physician to Philip II, who was ordered to visit Mexico in 1570 to study the “natural products of that country”. They were used as a source of food by the indigenous peoples, and were both gathered in the wild and cultivated. The Aztecs used them to treat epilepsy,[8] and employed the long hollow stem of the (Dahlia imperalis) for water pipes.[9] The indigenous peoples variously identified the plants as “Chichipatl” (Toltecs) and “Acocotle” or “Cocoxochitl” (Aztecs). From Hernandez’ perception of Aztec, to Spanish, through various other translations, the word is “water cane”, “water pipe”, “water pipe flower”, “hollow stem flower” and “cane flower”. All these refer to the hollowness of the plants’ stem.[10]

Hernandez described two varieties of dahlias (the pinwheel-like Dahlia pinnata and the huge Dahlia imperialis) as well as other medicinal plants of New Spain. Francisco Dominguez, a Hidalgo gentleman who accompanied Hernandez on part of his seven-year study, made a series of drawings to supplement the four volume report. Three of his drawings showed plants with flowers: two resembled the modern bedding dahlia, and one resembled the species Dahlia merki; all displayed a high degree of doubleness.[11] In 1578 the manuscript,entitled Nova Plantarum, Animalium et Mineralium Mexicanorum Historia, was sent back to the Escorial in Madrid;[12] they were not translated into Latin by Francisco Ximenes until 1615. In 1640, Francisco Cesi, President of the Academia Linei of Rome, bought the Ximenes translation, and after annotating it, published it in 1649-1651 in two volumes as Rerum Medicarum Novae Hispaniae Thesaurus Seu Nova Plantarium, Animalium et Mineraliuím Mexicanorum Historia. The original manuscripts were destroyed in a fire in the mid-1600s.[13]

European introduction

In 1787, the French botanist Nicolas-Joseph Thiéry de Menonville, sent to Mexico to steal the cochineal insect valued for its scarlet dye, reported the strangely beautiful flowers he had seen growing in a garden in Oaxaca.[14] In 1789, Vicente Cervantes, Director of the Botanical Garden at Mexico City, sent “plant parts” to Abbe Antonio José Cavanilles, Director of the Royal Gardens of Madrid.[15] Cavanilles flowered one plant that same year, then the second one a year later. In 1791 he called the new growths “Dahlia” forAnders Dahl.[2] The first plant was called Dahlia pinnata after its pinnate foliage; the second, Dahlia rosea for its rose-purple color. In 1796 Cavanilles flowered a third plant from the parts sent by Cervantes, which he named Dahlia coccinea for its scarlet color.

Dahlia

In 1798, Cavanilles sent D. Pinnata seeds to Parma, Italy. That year, the Marchioness of Bute, wife of The Earl of Bute, the English Ambassador to Spain, obtained a few seeds from Cavanilles and sent them to Kew Gardens, where they flowered but were lost after two to three years.[16]

Dahlia

In the following years Madrid sent seeds to Berlin and Dresden in Germany, and to Turin and Thiene in Italy. In 1802, Cavanilles sent tubers of “these three” (D. pinnata, D. rosea, D. coccinea) to Swiss botanist Augustin Pyramus de Candolle at University of Montpelier in France, Andre Thouin at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris and Scottish botanist William Aiton at Kew Gardens.[17]That same year, John Fraser, English nurseryman and later botanical collector to the Czar of Russia, brought D. coccinea seeds from Paris to the Apothecaries Gardens in England, where they flowered in his greenhouse a year later, providing Botanical Magazine with an illustration.

In 1804, a new species, Dahlia sambucifolia, was successfully grown at Holland House, Kensington. Whilst in Madrid in 1804, Lady Holland was given either dahlia seeds or tubers by Cavanilles.[18] She sent them back to England, to Lord Holland’s librarian Mr Buonaiuti at Holland House, who successfully raised the plants.[19][20] A year later, Buonaiuti produced two double flowers.[21] The plants raised in 1804 did not survive; new stock was brought from France in 1815.[16] In 1824, Lord Holland sent his wife a note containing the following verse:

“The dahlia you brought to our isle

Your praises for ever shall speak;
Mid gardens as sweet as your smile,

And in colour as bright as your cheek.”[22]

In 1805, German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt sent more seeds from Mexico to Aiton in England, Thouin in Paris, and Christoph Friedrich Otto, director of the Berlin Botanical Garden. More significantly, he sent seeds to botanist Carl Ludwig Willdenow in Germany. Willdenow now reclassified the rapidly growing number of species, changing the genus from Dahlia to Georgina; after naturalist Johann Gottlieb Georgi. He combined the Cavanilles species D. pinnata and D. rosea under the name of Georgina variabilis; D. coccinea was still held to be a separate species, which he renamed Georgina coccinea.

For more information here is the link to Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dahlia

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Floral Friday: Camellias

Friday is a day for me to showcase my florals.  Not to mention learning about these blooms at the same time.  This week I have some Camellias. They are such a showy bush.  But when I think about them, I am always thinking of Camellia, Duchess of Cornwall.  For some reason, I don’t know why.

Camellias are evergreen shrubs or small trees up to 20 m (66 ft) tall. Their leaves are alternately arranged, simple, thick, serrated, and usually glossy. Their flowers are usually large and conspicuous, one to 12 cm in diameter, with five to nine petals in naturally occurring species of camellias. The colors of the flowers vary from white through pink colors to red; truly yellow flowers are found only in South China and Vietnam. Camellia flowers throughout the genus are characterized by a dense bouquet of conspicuous yellow stamens, often contrasting with the petal colors.[1][2] The so-called “fruit” of camellia plants is a dry capsule, sometimes subdivided in up to five compartments, each compartment containing up to eight seeds.

The various species of camellia plants are generally well-adapted to acidic soils rich in humus, and most species do not grow well onchalky soil or other calcium-rich soils. Most species of camellias also require a large amount of water, either from natural rainfall or fromirrigation, and the plants will not tolerate droughts. However, some of the more unusual camellias – typically species from karst soils inVietnam – can grow without too much water.

Camellia plants usually have a rapid growth rate. Typically they will grow about 30 cm per year until mature – though this does vary depending on their variety and geographical location.

Camellia plants are used as food plants by the larvae of a number of Lepidoptera species; see List of Lepidoptera that feed on Camellia. Leaves of the Japanese Camellia (C. japonica) are susceptible to the fungal parasite Mycelia sterile (see below for the significance).

As usual I went to Wikipedia for my info. What I didn’t realise was the use of the leaves for making tea:

Use by humans

Camellia reticulata is very rare in the wild but common in culture

Camellia sinensis, the tea plant, is of major commercial importance because tea is made from its leaves. While the finest teas[citation needed]are produced by C. sinensis thanks to millennia of selective breeding of this species, many other camellias can be used to produce a similar beverage. For example, in some parts of Japan, tea made from C. sasanqua leaves is popular.

Tea oil is a sweet seasoning and cooking oil made by pressing the seeds of C. oleifera, C. japonica, and to a lesser extent other species such as C. crapnelliana, C. reticulata, C. sasanqua and C. sinensis. Relatively little-known outside East Asia, it is the most importantcooking oil for hundreds of millions of people, particularly in southern China.

Camellia oil is commonly used to clean and protect the blades of cutting instruments.

Camellia oil pressed from seeds of C. japonica, also called tsubaki oil or tsubaki-abura (椿油) in Japanese, has been traditionally used in Japan for hair care.[3]

They are a really popular shrub here in New Zealand.

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Floral Friday: Pelorgonium

 

 

This week’s floral photos are geraniums – or the correct name pelargonium.  Most of these photos were taken at my parents house.  Yet the strongest memories I have of them are the window boxes in Austria.  I lived there for 11 years.  And every spring there would be a stampede to the local garden stores for potting soil and geraniums to plant their little bit of garden in their houses.  Where we lived there was a communal garden and it was compulsory to have window boxes.  There was quite a competition among the households to have the best show.  Me, they were lucky I even had window boxes, let alone a great show.  I don’t have green thumbs or any green pinkies at all.

I have just gone through some of my photos and to my surprise I really didn’t have any photos of the traditional houses with their window boxes.  I think because it was so common place I didn’t think I needed to take any photos.  Here are the only two I found, in colour at least.

Sorry about the quality of these last two photos but they are photos of photos, so a lot of dust.  It is also hard to edit photos of photos.

So info from Wikipedia about these plants – I find the smell quite distinctive.

Pelargonium /ˌpɛlɑrˈɡniəm/[4] is a genus of flowering plants which includes about 200 species of perennials, succulents, and shrubs, commonly known as geraniums (in the United States also storksbills). Confusingly, Geranium is the correct botanical name of a separate genus of related plants often called cranesbills or hardy geraniums. Both genera belong to the family Geraniaceae. The confusion stems from Linnaeus originally including all the species in one genus, Geranium, but their later being separated into two genera by Charles L’Héritier in 1789.

Pelargonium species are evergreen perennials indigenous to Southern Africa, and are drought and heat tolerant, but can tolerate only minor frosts. Some species are extremely popular garden plants, grown as bedding plants in temperate regions.

History

The first species of Pelargonium known to be cultivated was P. triste, a native of South Africa. It was probably brought to the Botanical Garden in Leiden before 1600 on ships which stopped at the Cape of Good Hope. In 1631, the English gardener John Tradescant the elder bought seeds from Rene Morin in Paris and introduced the plant to England. The name Pelargonium was introduced by Johannes Burman in 1738, from the Greek πελαργός, pelargós (stork), because the seed head looks like a stork’s beak. Carl Linnaeusoriginally grouped together in the same genus (Geranium) the three similar genera Erodium, Geranium, and Pelargonium. The distinction between them was made by Charles Louis L’Héritier de Brutelle based on the number of stamens or anthers, seven in the case of Pelargonium.

The chemist, John Dalton, first realized that he was color blind in 1794 when he heard others describe the color of the flowers of the pink (Pelargonium zonale),[9] as pink or red, when to him it looked either pink or blue, having no relationship to red at all.[10]

Cultivation

Their main requirement is a warm, sunny, sheltered location. Many varieties will tolerate drought conditions for short periods. They are commonly seen in bedding schemes in parks and gardens, but can also be grown indoors as houseplants if given enough light. More compact erect and trailing varieties are ideal for window boxes and hanging baskets, in association with other half-hardy plants like lobelias, petunias and begonias. Thousands of pelargonium cultivars are available from garden centres or specialist suppliers during the spring and summer months. They are regular participants in flower shows and competitive events, with numerous societies devoted exclusively to their cultivation.[25][26] They are easy to propagate vegetatively from cuttings.[27][28]

There you go, now we know why we had to have window boxes with these plants, and we had petunias too.

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Floral Friday: Miniature Hibiscus

Giant Hibiscus (1 of 1)

Good morning from a windy Hastings day.  Rain is forecast this weekend which is badly needed.

We are already in Friday as I am writing this so it is time for some more floral photos.  On Marine Parade in Napier I found these huge hibiscus plants.  The flowers were just about bigger than the plant itself.

Giant Hibiscus Pink (1 of 1)

Giant Pink Hibiscus (1 of 1)

They made quite a show.

I did some research about these showy flowers and there is more to these blooms that these large blooms:

Hibiscus (/hɨˈbɪskəs/[2] or /hˈbɪskəs/[3]) is a genus of flowering plants in the mallow family, Malvaceae. It is quite large, containing several hundred species that are native to warm-temperate, subtropical and tropical regions throughout the world. Member species are often noted for their showy flowers and are commonly known simply as hibiscus, or less widely known as rose mallow. The genus includes both annual and perennial herbaceous plants, as well as woody shrubs and small trees. The generic name is derived from theGreek word ἱβίσκος (hibískos), which was the name Pedanius Dioscorides (ca. 40–90) gave to Althaea officinalis.[4]

Symbolism and culture

Hibiscus species represent nations: Hibiscus syriacus is the national flower of South Korea, and Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is the national flower of Malaysia. The hibiscus is the national flower of Haiti. The red hibiscus is the flower of the Hindu goddess Kali, and appears frequently in depictions of her in the art of Bengal, India, often with the goddess and the flower merging in form. The hibiscus is used as an offering to goddess Kali and Lord Ganesha in Hindu worship.

In the Philippines, the gumamela (local name for hibiscus) is used by children as part of a bubble-making pastime. The flowers and leaves are crushed until the sticky juices come out. Hollow papaya stalks are then dipped into this and used as straws for blowing bubbles.

The hibiscus flower is traditionally worn by Tahitian and Hawaiian girls. If the flower is worn behind the left ear, the woman is married or in a relationship. If the flower is worn on the right, she is single or openly available for a relationship. The hibiscus is Hawaii’s state flower.

Beverage

Main article: Hibiscus tea

The tea made of hibiscus flowers is known by many names in many countries around the world and is served both hot and cold. The beverage is well known for its color, tanginess and flavor.

It is known as bissap in West Africa, agua de jamaica in Mexico and Honduras (the flower being flor de jamaica) and gudhal (गुड़हल) in India. Some refer to it as roselle, a common name for the hibiscus flower. In Jamaica, Trinidad and many other islands in the Caribbean, the drink is known as sorrel (Hibiscus sabdariffa; not to be confused with Rumex acetosa, a species sharing the common name sorrel). In Ghana, the drink is known as soobolo in one of the local languages.

Roselle is typically boiled in an enamel-coated large stock pot as most West Indians believe the metal from aluminum, steel or copper pots will destroy the natural minerals and vitamins.[citation needed]

In Cambodia, a cold beverage can be prepared by first steeping the petals in hot water until the colors are leached from the petals, then adding lime juice (which turns the beverage from dark brown/red to a bright red), sweeteners (sugar/honey) and finally cold water/ice cubes.

In Egypt,[citation needed] Sudan and the Arab world, hibiscus tea is known as karkadé (كركديه), and is served as both a hot and a cold drink.

Food

Dried hibiscus is edible, and it is often a delicacy in Mexico. It can also be candied and used as a garnish.[7]

The roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is used as a vegetable. The species Hibiscus suratensis Linn synonymous to Hibiscus aculeatus G. Don is noted in Visayas Philippines being a souring ingredient for almost all local vegetables and menus. Known as Labog in the Visayan area, (or Labuag/Sapinit in Tagalog), the species is a very good ingredient in cooking native chicken soup. Certain species of hibiscus are also beginning to be used more widely as a natural source of food coloring (E163),[citation needed] and replacement of Red #3 / E127.[citation needed]

Hibiscus species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidopteran species, including Chionodes hibiscella, Hypercompe hambletoni, the nutmeg moth, and the turnip moth.

Health benefits

The tea is popular as a natural diuretic; it contains vitamin C and minerals, and is used traditionally as a mild medicine.

A 2008 USDA study shows consuming hibiscus tea lowers blood pressure in a group of prehypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults. Three cups of tea daily resulted in an average drop of 8.1 mmHg in their systolic blood pressure, compared to a 1.3 mmHg drop in the volunteers who drank the placebo beverage. Study participants with higher blood pressure readings (129 or above) had a greater response to hibiscus tea: their systolic blood pressure went down by 13.2 mmHg. These data support the idea that drinking hibiscus tea in an amount readily incorporated into the diet may play a role in controlling blood pressure, although more research is required.[8]

Studies have demonstrated the anti-hypertensive effects of H. sabdariffa in both humans and animals.[9] It has been proposed that the antihypertensive effects of H. sabdariffa is due to itsangiotensin-converting enzyme inhibiting activity.[10] In a randomized, controlled clinical trial involving 39 patients with mild to moderate hypertension, Captopril was compared to an extract ofH. sabdariffa for antihypertensive effects. Subjects taking an extract of H.sabdariffa, consumed daily before breakfast for four weeks, found reduction in blood pressure similar to Captopril.[11]Another randomized, placebo clinical trial involving 54 study participants with moderate hypertension demonstrated a reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. However upon discontinuation of treatment, both systolic and diastolic blood pressures were subsequently elevated.[12]

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis has a number of medical uses in Chinese herbology.[13] Lokapure Sachin.G.et al. their research indicates some potential in cosmetic skin care; for example, an extract from the flowers of Hibiscus rosa- sinensis has been shown to function as an anti-solar agent by absorbing ultraviolet radiation.[14]

In the Indian traditional system of medicine, Ayurveda, hibiscus, especially white hibiscus and red hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis), is considered to have medicinal properties. The roots are used to make various concoctions believed to cure ailments such as cough, hair loss or hair greying. As a hair treatment, the flowers are boiled in oil along with other spices to make a medicated hair oil. The leaves and flowers are ground into a fine paste with a little water, and the resulting lathery paste is used as a shampoo plus conditioner.

Hibiscus tea also contains bioflavonoids, which are believed to help prevent an increase in LDL cholesterol, which can increase the buildup of plaque in the arteries.[15]

A previous animal study demonstrated the effects of H.sabdariffa extract on atherosclerosis in rabbits. Notably, a reduction in triglyceride, cholesterol, and low-density lipoproteinwas observed in rabbits consuming a high cholesterol diet (HCD) in addition to H.sabdariffa extract compared to rabbits only fed HCD, suggesting a beneficial effect.[16]Furthermore, the H. sabdariffa seed is abundant in phytosterol and tocopherol, plant forms of cholesterol that have antioxidant and LDL cholesterol lowering effects.[17]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hibiscus

I think I might go and brew up some of this tea.

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