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What Is Hibiscus?

Hibiscus Sabdariffa is a little known shrub which bears small pink flowers. Hibiscus is known in the Westindies as Sorrel. The picture below show the flowers, and the fleshier sepals which turn red when the plant matures, usually between November and December.   The red sepals and calyx from the harvest are dried and then stored for making cordials and punches as well as jams and teas. With its origins in tropical West Africa, Sorrel was introduced into Jamaica by the British in the 17th century.

Sorrel confusion

There are actually two kinds of sorrel. There is the red sorrel (Hibiscus sabdiffera) and there is green sorrel (Rumex acidosa). Despite sharing a name and a sour taste, the plants are totally unrelated


Jamaican Tradition

Christmas isn't the same without a tall glass of sorrel drink to quench your holiday thirst! And if you want to pack a punch, add some white rum, pimento, ginger and port wine (optional). N.B. Sorrel is pronounced (SA-rell) in Jamaica.



Sorrel has a reputation as a cure all in Caribbean and African cultures e.g. cool a fever,  cure a cough or cold, aid weight loss, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer….NutritionSorrel is rich in Vitamin C, antioxidants and minerals.  There is also evidence to support its role in reducing blood pressure in persons with mild to moderate  hypertension.


 Sorrel  has several different names across the globe as follows:

Sorrel in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, red sorrel in the wider Caribbean,

Flor de Jamaica in Latin America

Karkadé in Levant, Egypt and Sudan

Chai Kujarat in Iraq

Chai Torsh in Iran

Gumamela in the Philippines

Bissap,Ttsoborodo or Wonjo in West Africa

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