Celebrating Diversity with Roselle

As we celebrate diversity this month, one plant, in particular, provides a beautiful story of how food connects all Americans. Recently, our nation celebrated Juneteenth which commemorates the freedom of enslaved African people, enforced by federal troops in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

Food and drinks are a big part of celebrations and ceremonies across the globe, and Roselle hibiscus is just one example. Tasty and good for you, roselle is a powerhouse of vitamins – Vitamin A, Vitamin B1 (thiamin), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B9 (folic acid) and Vitamin C, the leaves, stem, flowers of Roselle plant are also rich in essential minerals like calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron.

Roselle came to the Americas from West Africa through the diaspora of the African people resulting from the transatlantic slave trade. For centuries, roselle has held a place in many societies and goes by as many names: Jamaican Sorrel, Bissap, Sobolo, Zobo, and more! When in bloom, you can find roselle growing in many parts of the Gardens, but the largest concentration of plants is in Hammock Hollow’s Backyard Ramble. Roselle can be used to make a variety of sweet treats, including teas, punch, jams, and jelly.

Stay tuned, as we will be sampling “Jamaican Sorrel Red Drink” made from roselle in November when the plant is in season. Cheers to all the memories you make throughout this month of celebration!

Article was written by Cissy Stanko, Education Manager.