The Roselle plant, also known as Cranberry Hibiscus, is fantastic addition to any Florida garden or landscape. It is beautiful and unusual to look at, making it both a striking ornamental and a delicious vegetable.
Growing Roselle couldn’t be easier. It is drought tolerant, poor soil tolerant, heat tolerant, and flood tolerant. It can take anything our hot, wet summers can give it and it grows with almost no care at all. Its deep green leaves and burgundy stems give it a beautiful, striking, appearance. Plant it as a backdrop or even use it as the focal point in your landscaping.
Not only is it beautiful though, it is completely edible and delicious. The rich leafy greens have great texture and can be eaten raw in salads, juiced, or cooked like spinach. As a member of the sorrel family, they have a slight lemony flavor, but also a hint of spiciness. They are high in anti-oxidants and can reduce cholesterol.
The fruit of the bush is a deep red berry that is commonly dried and brewed into tea. It is very high in vitamin C, antioxidants, and flavonoiods. Its juicy cranberry flavor has made it a favorite all over the world in teas, wines, juices, beers, and even soda. As a jam, it offers Florida gardeners a natural and tasty alternative to traditional cranberry jelly.
Here is my favorite way to use the leaves:
Tilapia Picatta with Roselle
(4) 6 oz. Tilapia Filets
1/4 Cup Wheat Flour
1/4 Tsp. Salt
1/4 Tsp. Pepper
4 Tbsp. Butter (divided)
1/4 Cup White Wine
3 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
1 Tbsp. Capers, Drained.
1 Large Bunch Roselle Leaves.
Wash Roselle leaves. Remove stems and chop coarsely. Set aside. Mix flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow plate. Coat fish in flour mixture. Melt 2 Tblsp. butter in pan over medium heat. Cook fish in butter until lightly browned and cooked through. Remove fish from pan. Add Roselle leaves and cook until soft. (I usually put a lid on the pan and let them cook down over medium/low heat). De-glaze the pan with wine, lemon juice, and 2 Tblsp. of butter. Add fish to pan and stir to coat. Add capers. Serve over rice or pasta and top fish with cooked greens.