Roselle, is an annual hibiscus and a native plant of west Africa and Jamaica. It has become known regionally as the “Florida Cranberry”.
Its history in Florida dates to the old “Florida Cracker” history during the 1880s, from which derived the nickname “Florida Cranberry”, according to Seminole Farms Florida Master Gardeners. Roselle’s main use is to make edible drinks and sauces. It is a plant that has a unique looking edible fruit, which has a tart and sweet flavor. Botanically named Hibiscus sabdariffa, it is a species of hibiscus and is closely related to okra.
In many tropical regions around the world, Roselle leaves are consumed as a vegetable, like a spicy version of spinach, according to Well Springs Garden.com. The vibrant red calyx and flowers are more commonly used as flavoring spices and for making hibiscus teas. Roselle calyces are also used in making homemade wines, jams, juices, jellies, and syrups.
University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) recommends that in most parts of Florida, the best time to plant Roselle is late April through August. Roselle plants are very susceptible to cold weather and should be planted during the summertime when it is warm and humid.