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Tropical Cooking with Travel Man: Appetizer/Side Dish/Salad # 2 - Hibiscus Salad

Updated on September 22, 2011

Making a hibiscus salad is new to me. I already knew the French dressing but I doubt I can endure the taste of it, although it looks enticing.

I overheard from our Jamaican stevedores when were at Kingston port way back 2004 and 2008 (as a seafarer) that they have a special beverage called Agua de Flor de Jamaica or the roselle tea made from dried sepals and calyxes of hibiscus or gumamela flowers. Local manufacturers made a lot of it that it's one of the export products of the said Caribbean nation.

Typical hibiscus or gumamela (as we call it here in the Philippines) are just flowering plants in the garden, oftentimes eaten by dogs, cats or even other animals (carabao, goats, cow) than can cause adverse effects in their stomachs.

During my childhood hibiscus flowers cured my boils (pigsa in Filipino term) by pounding several of it and apply as poultice around the wound. We often played on its petals by plucking it or inserting it on notebook pages as science project.

Edible hibiscus are:

  1. Abelmoschus esculentus, Okra - lady finger with its edible green pod
  2. Abelmoschus manihot, Aibika - sunset hibiscus
  3. Hibiscus acetosella, False roselle - cranberry hibiscus; known for making hibiscus tea
  4. Hibiscus cannabinus, Kenaf - Java jute, known for kenaf paper; very popular in Telugu, India as Gongoora (even in the US and Korean markets); with almost 129 names around the world.
  5. Hibiscus diversifolius, Swamp hibiscus - a close relative of swap cabbage because of its flowers; abundant in the Philippines, New Zealand and other tropical countries
  6. Hibiscus heterophyllus, Native rosella - endemic to Australia with white, pale pink or yellow with purple at the center
  7. Hibiscus mutabilis, Cotton rosemallow -Confederate rose, flowers and leaves are used by midwives to facilitate delivery during labor; can also treat skin infection and swelling. It is the state flower of Hawaii where it can have double-petals and variety of colors like golden, pink, rose, yellow and orange.
  8. Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, Chinese hibiscus - often a red hibiscus or gumamela and the national flower of Malaysia
  9. Hibiscus sabdariffa, Roselle - very popular in the Carribean as roselle drink, usually iced tea.
  10. Hibiscus sinosyriacus, Hibiscus syriacus - Rose of Sharon - the flower petals are edible for making salad, leaves good for shampoo and flowers for organic hair dye depending on its colors
  11. Hibiscus trionum, Flower of an hour - native in the East side of Mediterranean as wild and garden plant

Hibiscus Salad (Photo by Travel Man)
Hibiscus Salad (Photo by Travel Man)

Homegrown ingredients

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Yellow orange hibiscus (Photo by Travel Man)Spanish lemon (Photo by Travel Man)Plucked calyces or sepals of hibiscus (Photo by Travel Man)Dill weed (Photo by Travel Man)French dressing - salt/pepper/salad oil/dill weed/lemon mixture (Photo by Travel Man)Hibiscus salad (Photo by Travel Man)
Yellow orange hibiscus (Photo by Travel Man)
Yellow orange hibiscus (Photo by Travel Man)
Spanish lemon (Photo by Travel Man)
Spanish lemon (Photo by Travel Man)
Plucked calyces or sepals of hibiscus (Photo by Travel Man)
Plucked calyces or sepals of hibiscus (Photo by Travel Man)
Dill weed (Photo by Travel Man)
Dill weed (Photo by Travel Man)
French dressing - salt/pepper/salad oil/dill weed/lemon mixture (Photo by Travel Man)
French dressing - salt/pepper/salad oil/dill weed/lemon mixture (Photo by Travel Man)
Hibiscus salad (Photo by Travel Man)
Hibiscus salad (Photo by Travel Man)

Make the salad in less than 5 minutes!


1 piece hibiscus flower, petals cleaned and plucked ( I used a pink hibiscus flower or the confederate variety.)

French dressing (modified)

1 teaspoon fresh shredded dill weed

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon salad oil (I used vegetable oil instead.)

dash of salt and ground black pepper


  1. Pour the mixed French dressing on the hibiscus sepals.

  2. Serves 1.

I sampled the salad right after the quick preparation. It's cottony but nutty to the taste. Thanks to its French dressing with the dill weed.

Nothing harmful that happened to me. I put the leftover in the fridge for my dinner appetizer.

I'm still looking for the variety of the Rose of Sharon. I might try making a salad out of it.


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    • travel_man1971 profile imageAUTHOR

      Ireno Alcala 

      5 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @Kathryn Stratford: Thanks for sneaking up on my hub. Surprisingly, I was also doubtful whether it will be adopted by salad lovers.

      It has a nutty flavor and it's very nutritious. You can try it, please. :)

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image


      5 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      It looks cool, but I can't imagine ruining such a pretty flower!

    • travel_man1971 profile imageAUTHOR

      Ireno Alcala 

      7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      @Peggy W: Hibiscus tea is more popular, Ms. Peggy. Hibiscus salad will be popular in time. I hope this hub will encourage others to try it a little quantity at a time. It is rich in vitamin C and a good substitute for the usual greens or vegetable salads.

      Thanks for dropping by!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      7 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I had heard of hibiscus tea but never thought of using the hibiscus flowers in a salad. Interesting!

    • travel_man1971 profile imageAUTHOR

      Ireno Alcala 

      7 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      I've used hibiscus mutabilis or the cotton rosemallow. It's cottony, little sweet and nutty (due to dill weed) to the taste. I observed myself if I'll have an adverse reaction. So, far, I'm still alive.

      Since I'm new to this, I eat with precaution, the only one in the family, LOL!

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I might as well, try nasturtiums, too!

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      I had no idea hibiscus plants were edible. We have nasturtiums in our yard that are edible and I use as garnish. What does the plant taste like? The photographs are beautiful!


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