Flor de santos/Sleeping hibiscus/Malvaviscus arboreus

Note: Still grieving…but also still living.
Hello everybody, and might I say that I am happy to be back! I guess it’s about time I updated my blog. Why does grieving my dog’s death seem like the hardest thing I’ve ever done? To this day, I am still struggling with his death because I can barely think about him without crying. I miss him so much.

On a happier note: Has it ever happened that a flower can bring back memories of childhood? Well it surely happened with me and that led me fondly to my childhood memories. My Grandfather used to grow gorgeous hibiscus in our backyard. Who doesn’t remember licking the sweet nectar from the ends of the Turk’s cap blossoms as a kid? I remember that my mother taught me how to pull the flower out and suck the sweet nectar from the base of the blooms. Its red fruits are edible raw or cooked, and has a somewhat mealy texture, and tastes a bit like an apple. I was very young, but I remember that they tasted very yummy! Oh how I wish I could reach into this picture, and taste the fruit again. 🙂

Malvaviscus arboreus is native to a region stretching from Mexico through Central America to Columbia. It has made itself at home in Florida and is naturalized in many areas of central and south Florida and in other parts of the subtropical world. The official common name is Flor de santos, Sleeping hibiscus, Manzanilla, Turk’s Turban, Scotchman’s Purse and Mexican Apple. It is a pretty and edible shrub (not to be confused by Malvaviscus drummondii) growing to eight foot tall by six foot wide. The oval green leaves are simple, alternate, and have three shallow lobes and serrated margins. Leaf venation is palmate, a clue to mallow family ancestry. Flowers high in antioxidants; seeds are high in protein and starch; leaves high in minerals; fruit high in vitamin C.

The petals of each flower open only slightly giving the flower a tubular shape like a Turk’s turban or umbrella. These edible flowers can not only be eaten, or used as a garnish, but also are made into a decoction, it is said to be good for the digestive tract and female problems. The bright red flowers are pendulous and last for several days. The petals do not flare back like Hibiscus, but remain swirled around the pistil. This gives the impression that the flowers never open, and hence the common name of Sleeping Hibiscus. There is a pale pink color-form that is not as showy. Flowers and fruit make a good herbal tea, and the young leaves can be utilized as a culinary herb or salad herb. When the fruit is cooked down, it will produce a good jelly or syrup.

There are two distinct varieties and many online resources confuse the two. Variety arboreus is the one most commonly grown in Florida. Variety drummondii (most commonly grown in Texas) apparently has broader fuzzy leaves and more erect flowers. The plant often becomes vine like when grown in shady situations, sending out long stems that clamber over and up adjacent trees and bushes.

Hibiscus Green Tea

1 gallon water
6 green tea bags
1 cup hibiscus flowers
1/2 cup sugar (more or less to taste)
Lime slices for serving
Dark Rum (optional)

Bring water to a boil. Turn off the heat, add the tea bags and the flowers. Allow to cool to room temperature. Strain through a fine strainer into a pretty pitcher. (Be very careful not to wear your white cashmere when doing this – the tea will stain. I set my pitcher and strainer in the sink.) Stir in sugar until dissolved. Chill and serve garnished with a slice of lime and a shot of rum if you are feeling like that.

Hibiscus Lemon Balm Ice Pops
makes 5 – 2.5 oz popsicles

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 small bunch lemon balm
2 bags hibiscus tea
1 1/3 cups water

Heat 1/2 cup water in small saucepan until almost boiling. Stir in 1/2 cup sugar until dissolved. Toss in lemon balm, and let steep for at least 30 minutes. Strain syrup to remove lemon balm. Boil 1 1/3 cups water. Steep tea bags for at least 30 minutes. Remove tea bags. Combine tea and simple syrup. Pour into ice pop molds and freeze until solid.

Happy summer, you guys!

About zoom50

“It’s amazing how people can get so excited about a rocket to the moon and not give a damn about smog, oil leaks, the devastation of the environment with pesticides, hunger, disease”
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6 Responses to Flor de santos/Sleeping hibiscus/Malvaviscus arboreus

  1. kimkiminy says:

    Glad to see you back. Both of those recipes look delicious!

  2. akamonsoon says:

    Welcome back Zoom. 🙂

    These look really refreshing. I was remembering while reading this that we used to take clover flower while growing up and nibble at the ends of petals which were also sweet.

    • zoom50 says:

      Thank you, Monsoon!
      When I was growing up I nibble on all sorts of delicious wild things including sour clover, wild berries and seagrapes….Oh God! I remember making bracelets out of clover blossoms in the summer…I miss those days! 😦

  3. Sora says:

    Aha! that’s perfect. This sounds very refreshing while being a little different than my normal sweet tea. thanks for share the recipes.

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