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Savista, at Village Sanjharia, Off Ajmer Road, Jaipur 302042, Rajasthan


This handsome hibiscus is both beautiful and useful.  Derived from the Greek work ebiskos or ibiskos,  it is native to most warm temperate, tropical and subtropical regions, and  exists in hundreds of varieties – some annual, others perennial, and in a tremendous number of colors, and is used for anything from hair dye to tea.

Here at Savista, hibiscus is used for landscaping and can be found lining our paths as well as the alfresco dining area. And to keep it continually pleasing to the eye,  this sun-loving plant needs to be pruned and  thus well taken care of, performing best in the hot months. In our garden you will find white, red and pink flowers,  which is really only a short list of the colors existing in nature; it is a most fascinating species, which has the ability to change color from white to red in the course of a single day.

One can find white, red, yellow, orange, purple and even pink hibiscus flowers with trumpet shaped flowers, single flowers or double flowers, all with at least 5 petals and maybe even heart shaped leaves. Of the hundreds of species of hibiscus, many will not take to Indian soil which is interesting because they are found throughout the country and are used for all types of beauty treatments, drinks and even ayurvedic medicine. Hibiscus is believed to cure coughs, stop hair from graying, and even stop hair from falling.  And despite this flowers inability to grow naturally, propagation is sustained primarily by cuttings.

In terms of usefulness,  the most obvious is landscaping for its aesthetic quality as well as its attractiveness to birds, bees and hummingbirds, making any garden instantly more beautiful. A second contribution of hibiscus is a unique flavor to tea, served either hot or cold depending on where you are in the world. In Jamaica, hibiscus tea is served with rum and with lime in Cambodia, turning it deep red.  As for edibility, dried hibiscus is considered to be a delicacy in Mexico; is made into jellies or preserves and another variety produces young fruit eaten as a vegetable, known as bhindi (Hindi), ladies fingers or okra. Many varieties of hibiscus are used as a natural diuretic, to treat venereal diseases, as a laxative, or as a source of Vitamin C. Studies have even shown that hibiscus can lower blood pressure.

The hibiscus also holds great cultural significance worldwide, particularly the red flower.  It is the national flower of South Korea and Malaysia.  Here in India, the red hibiscus is the flower of the mother goddess Kali. Kali is the goddess of change and time and images show the flower and goddess uniting. The same flowers are also used as an offering to Ganesha, remover of obstacles. And In the Philippines children make hibiscus flowers locally known as gumamela into bubbles by crushing the flowers and leaves and using a straw. Tahitian women wear the red hibiscus to show that they are single and looking to marry, fibers are made into grass skirts in Polynesia, and more ordinary uses include linoleum paints, lubricants, shampoo, conditioner and hair oil.

Bor, N.L. and Raizada, M.B. Some Beautiful Indian Climbers & Shrubs Oxford University Press, Oxford, England. Second reprint 1999 first edition 1994 Bombay Natural History Society 1982