PLANT NAME: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis L.
COMMON NAMES: Aloalo [Hawai’i]; red hibiscus; china rose [English]; da hong hua (“big red flower”) [China];’aute samoa [Samoa]; fu sang; gumamela [Philippines]; Hawaiian hibiscus [Australia]; japä [India]; japa puspi [Nepal]; japapushpam [India]; papo [Panama]; pejo [Colombia]; shoeflower [Jamaica].
RANGE: Native to China / India, but globally pandemic in temperate and tropical areas. The Polynesians carried Hibiscus rosa-sinensis across the Pacific, as far east as the Marqueses Islands. Some say that it is not native to anywhere and is a man-made hybrid. In Hawai’i some of the flowers may have crossed with our native species.
USE AS FOOD: In China the Flower petals are added to baked goods, with sugar and lemon. Flower petals are used as a condiment with salads. The flowers are pickled. The leaves are sometimes used as a potherb. The flowers can be boiled, sweetened, and chilled for a summer drink [India].
TOXICITY: The flowers are not teratologic (do not cause birth defects) in rats at clinical doses [Nath 1992].
CAUTIONS AND CONTRAINDICATIONS: Occupational skin symptoms are suspected for Hibiscus rosa-sinensis.
Not in pregnancy [Brinker 2001].
POSSIBLE DRUG INTERACTIONS: Possible hypokalemia due to diuretic action of some Hibiscus spp. (speculative). Following this line of thought, possible interactions include: NSAIDS (toxicity), muscle relaxants (potentiation), antidiabetic medications (antagonism), lithium therapy (potentiation), corticosteroids (hypokalemia), diuretics (potentiation), antihypertensives (potentiation), sympathomimetics (antagonism). All of this is speculative.
NOTES ‘N QUOTES
The flowers are hermaphroditic (are both male and female).
Aloalo is one of our best local plants used topically for boils. It also is useful to break up sticky lung phlegm. It should be used fresh.