Monday, April 4, 2011

Hibiscus Parade again, and again!

Hibiscus is a flower we do not get tired with. Maybe that's one of the reasons why both the scientists and the enthusiasts keep on breeding them, and never get bored trying to produce lots of variations in their results. There are those who want to produce a certain hue, while others want to produce certain shapes. But definitely, it is the novelty of whether hue, venation, size, shape or their combinations that make a certain hybrid very famous, or sought after by collectors.

Most of us have been posting Hibiscus species and most of us, altogether, still appreciate and look at them as if it is our fisrt time. But do you know that its petals can be eaten? I have a straight vegetarian friend who prepares dishes with Hibiscus petals during our annual reunions. Everybody seems to be curious and the colorful petals get consumed so fast.

This is from the Horticulture Exhibit and Annual Garden Sale i visited last February
 in Quezon City, Philippines

These are from the participating commercial nurseries at the Orchid Show at the Quezon Memorial Circle, Quezon City, Philippines, 24 Feb to 07 Mar 2011

These hybrids are from the collection of the Institute of Plant Breeding, University of the Philippines Los Baños
Our native Hibiscus species (pink), which  we locally call 'gumamela' in Pilipino. We also have red, peach, yellow, white and variations in hues and petals.

Now let's go into some science of colors in plants. These bright colors of ornamental plants, commonly called pigments are carotenoids composed of carotenes (hydrocarbons without oxygen) and xantohpylls (hydrocarbons with oxygen). There are also those called anthocyanins which are red, purple, or blue according to pH. They belong to a parent class of molecules called flavonoids. Only the anthocyanins are water soluble pigments. The bright colors of ornamentals and flowers not only attract their pollinators, but also protect the young leaves from extreme light stress from photo oxidation. Senescing leaves like those in autumn get those colors because the chlorophyll (green) disappears exposing the carotenoids. Sometimes, these bright colors also deter other predators from eating them, as other brightly colored pigments are poison to some predators. This is the logic why some butterflies mimic the red color to defy their predators, somehow telling them they are not palatable or even toxic.

For humans, these pigments are now famous as antioxidants and helpful for our stressed bodies. I am sure you have been hearing the use of carotenoids as anti cancer. Antioxidants means they attach to the free-radicals in the body, which otherwise are our toxic and harmful products of metabolism. I just wonder at this point, how many kilograms of hibiscus flowers we must eat to counteract the resulting free-radicals our body produce continuously, especially resulting from pollution and stressful way of life.

I would like to dedicate this post to my Malaysian blogger friends because their national flower is the red Hibiscus rosa-sinensis. In order of my knowing them they are: Autumn Belle,  Stephanie, Bangchik, Aaron, James Missier, One and Orchid de Dangau.

For other Fabulous Friday posts please visit mcdougall photography site.


  1. Great post, Andrea. Hibiscus are a common sight here in northern Australia too ... and there are some fantastic colours. Your photos are brilliant and show just what variety there is! I also learned quite a bit I didn't know about colours in plants ... it made for a fascinating read.

  2. Hibiscus is definitely one of my favorites flowers.

    Great photos. See that you are addicted to collages like me. :)

    I have never consumed hibiscus before. Wonder how it tastes. Chilli can ward off free radicals too.

  3. I love your hibiscus parade, they are so beautiful.
    Greetings, Diny

  4. What beautiful hibiscus blooms. I have maybe 5 different kinds. I need to look up recipes for eating their blooms.

    Your post was very informative and makes me appreciate my hibiscus even more.


  5. Ahh Gumamela, such a symbol of the warm and humid tropics. Gorgeous colours on all of them, they make nice soap ballons too when crushed and mixed with detergents :)

  6. I do not tire of them either. Gorgeous Andrea.

  7. Your collages are beautiful. How could they not be beautiful, filled as they are with lovely pictures of hibiscus! I exclaimed over each hibiscus that we saw while on vacation last year in Hawaii. I never grow tired of seeing them.

  8. Really beautiful and almost looks like a climber the way it has gotten so big.
    Goldenray Yorkies

  9. Nice pictures. Hibiscus are my favorite flowers too.

  10. Lovely Hibiscus flowers. I can't wait until it is warm enough for me to take mine outside. They are now in the basement in their ugly dormant state...ugh!

  11. Oh! Beautiful flowers! Hibiscus my favorit flower!

  12. Hi Andrea, Wow--what gorgeous Hibiscus blooms. I have never seen such a great variety.. Thanks for sharing.

    Back from vacation --trying to catch up a little!!!!

  13. I didn't know hibiscus was edible. That would be fun to try! So many colors - just lovely.

  14. Hibiscus (gumamela) reminds me of my childhood years. We used to gather a lot of leaves and pound them to pulp, extract the liquid and mix in some water and laundry soap. Are you familiar with this concoction?

  15. I am glad many people still really love 'gumamela' or hibiscus.

    Bernie - yes we both have them because we almost have the same climate all year round. Thanks for appreciating.

    One - did you see my dedication to you and my Malaysian friend bloggers? I am addicted to collages because i get inspiration from your creations and Joey's too.

    Diny - thanks for dropping by, this is your first time here. Hope you come again!

    Flowerlady - I envy you for having 5 varieties, as we only have our old varieties which are more resistant to aphids and mealy bugs. They are also resistant to long dry season and neglect unlike the hybrids.

    Mark and Gaz - It looks like those from the Northern part of our country have been more creative in childhood. Solitude Rising is also from those areas and played that too. I didn't experience that but crushed the flowers for the red color and the bubbles.

    Donna - i do not tire of them too, at least in shows, however not in my own because hybrids are susceptible to insects in my area.

    Linda - Hawaii bred lots of Hibiscus in their early years of research and plant propagation.

    Sunray Gardening - Yes they grow like a small tree when allowed to grow unpruned. But maybe that is not the habit of hybrids, which make them more bushy and short.

  16. Andrea,

    Wow in all my life I've not seen so many different Hibiscus! Must be nice to see them in a hedge. I rescued a Hibiscus once that was going to be left out to freeze. It lived here 4 years!

  17. Natti - thanks for coming over and appreciation./

    The Sage Butterfly - i can imagine the difficulty of growing it in your climate, while in ours it is just left outside all year long. thanks for visiting.

    P3chandan - thank you very much, appreciate your kind words.

    Pepi - i appreciate your visit, hope you come again.

    Betsy from Tennessee - I hope you recover faster from the vacation mode and keep posting again. Lots of us are waiting for your lovely photos.

    HolleyGarden - i was also amazed to try eating the petals, but if it was my flower, maybe i will not eat it, coz i love just looking.

    SR - please see my reply above to Mark and Gaz. I did some color extraction only, however i will not forget it was my most difficult question in my MS comprehensive exam. A member of my committee asked what is the water soluble pigment and i cannot answer. When he said 'did you not play with it when you're a kid'? I still cannot recall. And when he gave the lead word 'gumamela', i said ah 'anthocyanins'. Reminds me of so many things! Come and we will play it again.

  18. Those hibiscus are so gorgeous! I love multi-coloured petals and large blooms. Mine is sometimes infected by mealybugs, so I have to trim all the infected branches and wait for it to start over...

  19. Your hibiscus are very beautiful, so many colours and forms. I am always on the lookout for hibiscus plants for my garden, especially those double petal ones that look like roses without thorns. The flower petals tastes good and the flower buds even better. I have only tried eating the traditional red variety, i.e. our national flower. Thank you very much for the dedication.

  20. I love hibiscus and wish they would stay here year round. I had one that I would bring inside during the winter months but housing plants with cats is not fun.They so loved to eat the plant and not good for them so the hibiscus had to go to another home...

  21. Love all the colours! It's a cheerful flower to have in the garden. Flowers perpetually and very obvious. I cannot imagine my garden without one. Btw, I have seen a pink hibiscus here that is very similar to the one you have posted. It was so beautiful.

  22. Its bloom time for hibiscus here in N. India. I agree one can never ever get tired of them. We have quite a few colours in Hibiscus at home.... and i still can't stop myself from collecting more each time i visit the Nursery.

    Beautiful Collage Andrea!

  23. I have never tried eating the petals, mebbe i will after having read your informative post. reading some of the familiar Botany terms brought back memories of college. I studied Botany till my graduation before pursuing an MBA post graduation. H

  24. The varieties you posted are really beautiful. Never saw such wonderful hybrid varieties in our area.

  25. Hi Andrea, I am amazed at the variety of hibiscus flowers and I had no idea that they could be eaten. It is a nice bonus that there are positive health benefits to eating the flowers.

  26. Our tortoise used to devour hibiscus flowers. The petals and the frilly bits in the middle. with obvious relish. Never knew I could eat them. We do eat nasturtium flowers ;¬)

  27. Aaron - glad you're back. Aphids are also common in hibiscus, be observant if the leaves already curls, that time you have to burn the whole plant because aphids are vectors of viruses. Burning the whole plant avoids spread to other plants.

    Autumn Belle - You seem to be the only one who has tasted it, and only you also saw my dedication. To me it doesn't taste much, just plain taste.

    Skeeter -thanks for droppinb by again. I didn't know cats eat them, but our goats love them so much.

    Stephanie - yes i know you have beautiful hibiscus, as you posted them a few times before. I only have the old indigenous varieties, because they are neglect proof! haha.

  28. Evergreen Tree - thanks for telling me your past, we have things in common. In my case it is till PhD, the path without good remuneration. You chose the better path, with more compensation, haha!

    Birdy - yes thanks for appreciating, most of these are new varieties, which we are always on the lookout.

    Jennifer - actually there are still a lot more varieties than these, they are just what i had the photos. Yes anthocyanins have health benefits.

    Elephant's Eye - next time you eat them first before your tortoise, anyway you walk faster, haha! In our case it is our goats which like them so much, eat them voraciously. In case of Skeeter above, it is her cat who loves the hibiscus.

  29. Such an interesting post! I didn't know there were so many varieties. The photos are beautiful too. Hibiscus will be blooming soon where I live and I look forward to getting some photos.

  30. These are gorgeous! I absolutely love hibiscus flowers. Thanks for participating in Fabulous Friday!

  31. Hi! Would you know if the Hibiscus hybrids available in UPLB are available somewhere here in Manila? I got a few and would like to have some more and give it as a gift to my family and friends. thanks :)

  32. Deb duty

    Thanks for dropping by, i hope you will come again.

    Josh - you should have put your link so i can visit your site, or i can reply to you there, just hope you will see this. You can try looking at the Manila Seedling Bank in QC for some UPLB hybrids, but i am not sure. If you want i can give you the number in LB for you to ask them directly. thanks.

  33. Andrea, I don't think that any hibiscus species posted here are of true native to our country, although we do have some endemics.

    Very informative explanation on the science of flower pigmentation. Thank you!


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