"Further cultivation of Rosella in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) began in 1920 under a subsidized program established to obtain fiber for making sugar sacks."
The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica and Melissa Petruzzello
Rosella or Java jute is scientifically known in Latin as Hibiscus sabdariffa. Internationally, in English, this plant is popularly known as roselle. Apart from roselle, this plant is also internationally known as Jamaican sorrel, red, sorrel, sorrel, Indian sorell or asam susar.
The genus name Hibiscus comes from the Greek word hibiskos which was used by the Roman poet Virgil to refer to the marshmallow plant. The species name sabdariffa is the name of the genus in which this species was once placed. Meanwhile, its popular name "Roselle" is likely an imperfect version of the French name for this plant, "Oseille de Guinée," which means Guinea Sorrel (NParks | Hibiscus Sabdariffa, 2018).
Roselle most likely originates from the West African and East African regions which include the Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, Sudan and Zaire (NParks | Hibiscus Sabdariffa, 2018). This includes Hibiscus sabdariffa of the altissima variety which is cultivated for fiber and Hibiscus sabdariffa of the sabdariffa variety which is grown and processed so that the flower parts (calyx) can be consumed.
This plant is known to have grown in the Dutch East Indies since the 16th century and has grown in Asia after the 17th century AD. Further cultivation in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) began in 1920 under a subsidized program established to obtain fiber for making sugar sacks (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2023). It was from the Dutch East Indies that the roselle plant spread and became naturalized in various countries in the world.
Now rosella has been widely cultivated in various countries in Asia including Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Cambodia, Myanmar, China, Vietnam, Laos, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and India, in countries on the African continent such as Egypt, Uganda, Tanzania, Senegal, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Congo, Burundi, Ghana, Rwanda and Australia and several countries on the Central American and South American continents such as Brazil, Cuba, Mexico and Guatemala.
Shape Description, Growth and Habitat
Even though it is an everlasting plant, roselle usually grows annually and develops from seeds. It grows perfectly in clay soil with good drainage, especially in tropical climates, and requires an average of around 25 cm of rain per month during the growing season. This plant is very sensitive to dew.
The stems and leaves range in color from dark green to reddish. The flowers are creamy-white or pale yellow. For fiber crops, the seeds are sown close together, producing plants 3 to 5 meters tall with little branching. The stem is cut when the buds appear, has undergone a retting process, and then the skin is peeled and beaten to free the fibers. In some areas, retting time is reduced by treating only the bark and attached fibers. Roselle plants cultivated as food crops are usually wider, shorter, and have many branches, with the petals picked when they are fat and fleshy.
The fiber strands can grow up to 1 to 3 meters long. Rosella fiber is generally quite strong and shiny with a color ranging from cream to grayish white. Often used in combination with hemp (jute) for thread and fabric bags.
Benefits of Roselle for Health
In many tropical regions, the red petals of Hibiscus Sabdariffa of the altissima variety are widely used in drinks, sauces, jellies, and sweets. It can also be eaten directly because it tastes similar to cranberries. The leaves and stems are consumed as a salad or cooked as a vegetable to flavor curry. In tropical regions of Africa, the seeds containing oil are also consumed. Meanwhile, in many traditional medicines, Rosella is widely used as a herbal medicinal plant for various diseases.
The roselle plant is classified as a fast-growing plant and a renewable biological natural resource with its frequent use as a combination of hemp (jute) material for yarn and fabric bags. The mechanical properties of rosella are said to be very good, especially when reinforced with polymer composites through the combination and hybridization of roselle hybrid composites (Ilyas et al., 2021).
Roselle has been scientifically proven to contain compounds that can help the process of lowering cholesterol, anti-obesity, has high antioxidant activity, helps the process of reducing insulin resistance, antihypertension, antiaging, antinociceptive activity, antidiarrhea, anti-inflammatory activity, antiproliferative, anticarcinogenic, and other properties. chemopreventive skin cancer (Tahmina Sadia Jamini & Islam, 2021).
The leaves, which feel very slimy, can be used as a moisturizer and cough suppressant. Similar to the leaves, the fruit also has antiscorbutic properties. Meanwhile, the flowers contain anthocyanins, hibiscin glycosides, and gossypetin (Ilyas et al., 2021).
Apart from being consumed in the form of food and drinks, roselle is also processed into porridge and liquid. Rosella as an ingredient applied to the outside of the body is said to have anti-inflammatory and exfoliating properties. So processed products become important raw materials for organic and natural cosmetics (Allied Market Research, 2021).
Roselle Industry and Cultivation
Roselle has potential as an industrial product ingredient for various uses including food, animal feed, cosmetic ingredients, and medicines. According to data published by Allied Market Research in 2021, the global roselle market size was valued at $122.8 million in 2020 and is projected to reach $252.6 million in 2030.
In 2020, the rosella powder segment accounted for the highest share in the world with North America dominating the rosella product market. North America is currently one of the main markets for the roselle industry due to the increasing demand for roselle products in medicinal products.
However, based on data from a report written by Mazaud et al. (2004) said that Germany and the United States are the two main countries that import the most roselle products. China and Thailand are the largest producers and control many of the world's supply of roselle products. Thailand invests heavily in roselle production and the product is considered to be of superior quality. Meanwhile, roselle products from China, where quality control practices are not as strict, are of lower quality but are reliable and have a good reputation. The world's best roselle comes from Sudan although small quantities and poor processing have hampered its quality.
In Indonesia itself, roselle as an ingredient in food, drinks, medicine, and cosmetic products is now not very popular. Most likely due to its initial use as a material for making jute sugar sacks. However, quite a lot of farmers in the Cirebon area grow rosella and the harvest can also be found in small stalls that sell vegetables during certain seasons.