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Chinese Hibiscus is Easy to Grow — Just Follow the Rules Jamaica Flowers Charm in the Kitchen Hibiscuses & Hinduism: How Gardens Cultivate Culture Using Hibiscus Flower For Skin & Hair Maui Flower of The Month: Hibiscus


Chinese Hibiscus Is Easy to Grow Just Follow the Rules


Anna L. Wang

Once my plants are indoors for the winter and settled in their appropriate locations, my thoughts usually turn to acquiring new ones. Like most indoor gardeners, I search for plants that satisfy three criteria: easy to grow, but worth the effort; months of bloom, and long life. To me nothing is more challenging than mastering the secrets of cultivating a special species followed by the thrill of success. And all of this must be done without the benefit of a greenhouse. For a long time I put off getting a Chinese hibiscus simply because of the myths about them. Chinese hibiscus is a tropical shrub that is said to be hard to keep alive indoors. Mention Chinese hibiscus and my mind’s eye immediately conjures up images of eight to 10-foot tall


Chinese Hibiscus Is Easy To Grow

long-lasting blossoms of red, pink, blue or violet. The flowers filled the hibiscus during the blooming season. I cannot forget these pleasures of colors and fragrances of flowers, so the Chinese hibiscus beckoned me to take up the challenge. Three years ago one December morning I bought a tiny one-foot tall Chinese hibiscus with three green buds. During the first “get acquainted� week, I placed the plant on my sunniest window sill. Of course, I pampered it with more attention than my other indoor plants. Careful watering to keep the soil moist all the time, spraying it twice or thrice a day and making sure there were no pests on the leaves. The Chinese hibiscus responded to my care by putting out more leaves and branches and more buds. The green buds got bigger every day. I was elated to note the plant seemed happy, the leaves were dark and shiny and there appeared to be no pests. Within a month, I had to transplant the hibiscus into a larger pot. The Chinese hibiscus is a tropical shrub and is not


Anna L. Wang

to be mistaken with a relative, the rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) which is hardy and widely planted in New England. The only time the Chinese hibiscus (H. Rosa-sinensis) stays outdoors is during the summer months where it is kept in partial shade and a sheltered surrounding. I wait until mid June when all danger of frost is gone to sink my hibiscus (in its pot) in the ground. I cover the top with woodchips to keep the soil moist. But before putting the plant out, I prune it back hard and take cuttings of non-flowering shoots for propagation. It may be nostalgic to reflect on the excitement I felt when my Chinese hibiscus rewarded me with its first bloom three years ago. It happened on Valentine’s Day. Just imagine. How could I forget the magical moment when suddenly my plant surprised me with a five and one-half inch doubleflowered blossom? The petals were the most delicate apricot-colored hibiscus I had ever seen. The corolla of apricotcolored petals were tinted maroon in the center. The pistil shooted up surrounded by a second


Chinese Hibiscus Is Easy To Grow

corolla of half curled up petals looking like a rose. During the second and third day of bloom, the pistil gradually came up to more than two and one-half inches among a cluster of orange-colored stamens. It was interesting to watch the flower opening to full bloom, changing every day. The flower stayed in full bloom for a day or two, then started its closing process which took two days. By that time, the petals curled back into a neat bud again and fell off in a day or so. Right after the bud closed, a second bud was opening up and then closing up in the same process. That winter the hibiscus continued blooming gloriously for three months before tapering off with more days between blooms. The blooming cycle lasted from mid-February to mid-June. I cannot think of another plant that can rival this Chinese hibiscus as far as the length of blooming period is concerned. The plant not only blooms in the winter months, but, after a few months rest, it blooms again in fall.


Anna L. Wang

Here are some pointers that I have learned on the general care of Chinese hibiscus: It is very important to keep the plant in a cool room. The ideal temperature is 50 to 60 degrees. Hibiscus grows well in moist well-drained soil. Water carefully and make sure the soil is not water-logged. Frequency of watering depends on the room temperature, humidity and sunshine. The soil mixture makes a difference. Some soil mixtures have less water retention and need to be watered more often. Also do not over-fertilize — a weak (half strength) solution of a balanced liquid fertilizer once every two weeks is plenty for indoor plants during the growing period. Stop fertilizing during the rest period which I compare to an animals’ hibernation in winter. During this time, less nutrition is needed. The best time to take cuttings is when the plant is in vigorous growth. I have taken cuttings from my hibisus in March and July. Choose non-flowering shoots, place them in a glass filled with water in a well-lighted area preferably away from direct sun. Be patient.


Chinese Hibiscus Is Easy To Grow

Pointers on the General Care of the Chinese Hibiscus It is very important to keep the plant in a cool room (50–60 °F). The soil mixture makes a difference — do not over-fertilize. The best time to take cuttings is when the plant is in growth (March/July) — be patient. To develop a well-balanced plant, turn the pot a quarter turn every time it is watered.


Anna L. Wang

Roots will soon form in a few weeks. When the cuttings are full of roots, pot each one individually in four-inch clay pots. For the first two weeks, put the new seedling pots in plastic bags to provide the equivalent of greenhouse humidity for the seedlings to grow. Water carefully and check occasionally to make sure the soil is moist. Remove the plastic bags when the seedlings are developing new leaves and gradually move them to full sun. The stems may also need staking. To develop a well-balanced plant, turn the pot a quarter turn every time it is watered so that each side of the seedlings receive adequate sun to grow. When the plant is moved outdoors, nature practically takes care of the hibiscus. Only on the hottest dry summer days do I need to water it. Occasionally I feed it with liquid fertilizer. By the end of summer, my hibiscus has grown to three feet tall and needs transplanting into a bigger pot. The hibiscus stays outdoors as long as weather permits. But, before any warnings of


Chinese Hibiscus Is Easy To Grow

frost, I move it inside again. This year’s long cool autumn weather made it possible for me to keep my hibiscus outdoors until mid-September. The cool nights did wonders in setting buds. When I bought the plant indoors, the flower buds were already formed. In a little over a month, on October 19 to be exact, the first fall blooms appeared. Hibiscus flower buds have bloomed one after the other ever since. My hibiscus has been pest free. A shower once in a while keeps the leaves clean and free of parasites. The Chinese hibiscus is a fast growing shrub and must be pruned back hard to prevent it from growing too tall indoors. With minimum care, this spectacular flowering plant rewards with periods of glorious displays twice a year. The Chinese hibiscus comes in a variety of colors, some are single-flowered and some are doubleflowered in soft pinks, hot pinks, reds, crimsons, blues, violets and yellows. I prefer the doubleflowered because it is interesting to see it opening up and closing. The single-flowered comes in


Anna L. Wang

more color varieties. Two of the unusual colors I have seen are a dwarf hibiscus called Blue Bird (a single blossom of violet blue) and Hamabo (a soft pink with a crimson eye). Dwarf hibiscus are about one-foot tall and well-branched.


Jamaica Flowers Charm in the Kitchen


Patricia Jinich

Growing up in Mexico City, my sisters and I used to prepare exotic meals, perfumes and potions for the inhabitants of our enchanted forest. That was our dog, the bluebird, snails, butterflies and ladybugs that happened to peek into our backyard and witness our extravagant mess. It also included any family friend who happened to stop by and become a willing victim. We sometimes offered cooking classes, too. My mother set us up in the backyard on a big blanket with random pots and pans, while she cooked laborious weekend meals. There was a fig tree, an apple tree, a peach tree, a couple


Jamaica Flowers Charm in the Kitchen

of what we called Chinese orange trees, and tons of azaleas and herbs that offered an immense array of witchcrafting material. But among our most prized ingredients were dried jamaica (pronounced ha-may-kah) flowers, known in the U.S. as hibiscus flowers, stored in a big jar in the kitchen. Although not native to Mexico, with a contested origin between Africa and India, jamaica flowers

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arrived in colonial times and are now deeply integrated into Mexican cuisine. Mainly used to prepare agua de jamaica, one of the freshly flavored waters (aguas frescas), they are enjoyed daily throughout Mexico. Agua de jamaica is extremely popular because its tart flavor, also refreshing and light, complements Mexican food so well. As a treat, and to make our wait more bearable, my mother would bring us a big pitcher of agua de jamaica. We would drink it, of course, but we would also pour it into ice cube molds with wooden sticks to make mini popsicles, or mix it with gelatin to make happy-looking jello, both of which are common in Mexico.


Patricia Jinich

It was more fun, however, to sneak into the kitchen to get the dried flowers and experiment firsthand. Oh, how fascinating it was to see how they slowly infused the liquid in which they were soaking with an intensely deep and vivid red color. Their flowery and fragrant smell seemed to help with our magic spells, too. After my husband and I moved to the U.S. in the 1990s, I would stuff them in my suitcase or ask someone to bring some when they visited from Mexico. My craving intensified while I was pregnant, since aside from their tangy taste (more welcome when carrying extra weight), their diuretic and digestive properties and richness in vitamin C and minerals are common knowledge in Mexico. Luckily, I don’t have to stuff them in my suitcase anymore. As with most ingredients used to cook Mexican food, they can be found in a store close by or with the click of a button, which is wonderful because I use plenty of them. The traditional jamaica water is a staple on my table, but most of all, I am still playing with them in my own enchanted forest or busy kitchen.

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Jamaica Flowers Charm in the Kitchen

Like other adventurous Mexican cooks, I have been experimenting with and expanding their culinary uses. For example, the easy-to-make concentrate used to flavor water makes a rich and sophisticated base for a thick and syrupy sauce to drizzle over gamey meats such as duck, venison or lamb. An even more daring approach, which I find irresistible, is to munch on these wholesome flowers. However, they are hard and rather tasteless as they are. They have to macerate for at least a couple of hours before they become deliciously chewy and release their tart and cranberrylike flavor. Thus, they are perfect for making exotic vinaigrettes. The concentrate has also been splashed into margaritas for some time now, and I was recently surprised to find hibiscus-infused tequila at a restaurant in downtown Washington, D.C. While I am no tequila connoisseur, it tasted heavenly. These days when my mother visits, she tries to set up my three boys on a big blanket with pots and pans in our backyard. Within 10 minutes, the


Patricia Jinich

potion-making ends in a wrestling match. However, since one of their favorite things is to have brownies outside, maybe next time we bake some I can drizzle sweetened jamaica syrup and whipped cream on top. That is a recipe I still haven’t tried.


Hibiscus Flower Concentrate, Water And Variations The most common use of jamaica flowers is to make a concentrate. Some cooks add lime juice; some don’t. I do, as it makes the tart flavor shine even more. This concentrate can be used to make flavored water, hot tea, popsicles, shaved ice or jello, among other things.


Hibiscus Flower Concentrates (Concentrado De Jamaica) Makes about 5 cups concentrate 8 cups water 2 cups (3 ounces) dried hibiscus/jamaica flowers 1–1/2 cups sugar, or to taste 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice In a 6- or 8-quart saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add flowers, stir and simmer over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool a bit. Strain mixture into a large container (with a lid to cover later), and add the sugar and lime juice. Stir until well-dissolved. Once the concentrate has cooled, cover well and refrigerate. It will keep in the refrigerator for months.

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Agua De Jamaica (Hibiscus Flower Water) Makes 4 to 6 servings 2 cups concentrate 6 to 8 cups water Ice cubes Dilute each cup of the concentrate with 3 to 4 cups water. Serve over ice cubes, or refrigerate until very

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cold. For Hibiscus Flower Tea Dilute 1/3 to 1/4 cup concentrate with 2/3 or 3/4 cup of water. Hibiscus Flower Popsicles For 2 cups concentrate, add 4 cups water and add 1/4 cup more sugar. Stir well, pour into popsicle molds and place in the freezer. This amount will make 24 2-ounce popsicles and will take 4 to 5 hours to freeze.


Seared Duck Breast With Hibiscus Flower And Orange Sauce (Pechuga De Pato Con Salsa De Jamaica Y Naranja) For a class I taught on modern Mexican cuisine, my sister Alisa Romano, a wonderful chef who lives in Miami, helped me tweak this sauce through a number of versions. I served the duck on top of sauteed spinach sprinkled with pine nuts and black bean with goat cheese tamales. It also goes very well with steamed asparagus and wild rice, or try it over venison, grilled rack of lamb or quail. For vegetarians, it should work nicely over grilled portobello mushrooms and can be made with vegetable instead of chicken broth.


Makes 6 servings Sauce 4 cups jamaica/hibiscus flower concentrate 2 cups chicken broth, homemade or store-bought Rind of an orange 1 bay leaf 3 whole cloves 5 black peppercorns 1 cinnamon stick, about 2 inches (use Ceylon or

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true cinnamon if you can) 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste Pour concentrate and broth into a medium-sized heavy saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil and add the orange rind, bay leaf, cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, vinegar and salt. Simmer at medium-high heat for about 35 minutes.


Bring heat down to medium-low, as the sauce will have reduced considerably and will be simmering too strongly. Keep on a low simmer until the sauce achieves a thick, syrupy consistency, about 10 more minutes. Don’t let it thicken too much, as the sauce will continue to thicken as it cools. Remove the spices using a slotted spoon or strainer, and reserve in a container. If you are not going to use it in the next couple of hours, or you made more than you need, let it cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat before using.

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Duck Breasts 6 duck breasts, 6 to 8 ounces each, with skin 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or to taste 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground, or to taste Thoroughly rinse the duck breasts under a thin stream of cold water and pat dry. Make 6 to 8

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diagonal cuts through the skin of each breast, being careful not to cut through the meat. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat.


Once it is hot but not smoking, place the duck breasts skin-side down and sear for 6 to 7 minutes, until the skin is brown and crisp, and most of the fat melts and turns into liquid. Move the breasts, skin-side up, to an ovenproof dish or pan. Place in the oven for 5 to 9 minutes, depending on how rare you like your meat: about 5 minutes for quite rare and about 8 to have a nice pink center. Remove the breasts from the oven and let them sit uce on top.

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Watercress, Goat Cheese And Pecan Salad With Hibiscus Flower Vinaigrette (Ensalada De Berros, Queso De Cabra Y Nueces Con Vinagreta De Jamaica) This has become my favorite way of eating or drinking jamaica flowers. After they macerate in the mix of oil, vinegar and seasonings, they absorb all of those flavors at the same time as they render theirs into the vinaigrette. Meanwhile, they become irresistibly chewy and make the salad playful, rich and interesting. If you want to take this salad over the top, crumble some freshly fried bacon on top.


Makes 6 servings 1/4 cup champagne vinegar 1/4 cup olive oil 1/2 cup safflower or corn oil 1 garlic clove, finely minced 2 teaspoons sugar, or to taste 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste 1 cup hibiscus flowers 12 ounces watercress, rinsed and drained 8 ounces fresh goat cheese, cut into 12 slices (can be crumbled, too) 1/2 cup pecans or pine nuts, lightly toasted

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Jamaica Flowers Charm in the Kitchen

Pour the champagne vinegar into a 3- to 4-quart mixing bowl. Slowly add both the olive oil and the safflower oil as you whisk them into the vinegar with a fork or whisk. Mix in the minced garlic, sugar, salt and pepper. Add the flowers and toss them well. Let them macerate from 4 to 6 hours. Remove the flowers with a slotted spoon, reserving the vinaigrette. Chop the flowers and return them to the vinaigrette. You may use then, or

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cover and refrigerate up to a week. Mix very well before using and taste for seasoning as it may have become a bit more tart as the days go by and need more salt and sugar. Place the watercress in a salad bowl. Toss with some vinaigrette and top with goat cheese slices and toasted pecans or pine nuts.


Hibiscuses & Hinduism: How Gardens Cultivate Culture


What sorts of cultural tales does your garden tell?


Hibiscuses & Hindiuism

One of my goals this year with a solid year of gardening experience under my belt has been to try to make my garden pretty as well as practical. I’ve partially succeeded. The Bachelors Buttons and Rose Campion I tried to intersperse among the vegetables became too weedy and too needy for my liking, so I pulled them out. Instead of planting flowers in the vegetable beds, I’ve settled for using pots to assign them to otherwise barren spaces. This has worked well except S complains that the plants definitely outnumber the people in our space. What can I say? It didn’t help that my local nursery had a sale on annuals. During one of these visits, I learned they had decided to renovate the area where they typically keep the more expensive and exotic plants like roses and hibiscuses, which meant that they offered these plants at deep discounts. And that is the story of how I came to own a hibiscus. Hibiscuses have the power to transport me through time and space. The variety I’m growing is called Strawberry Sunset. It blooms a rich, velvety red, and its vibrancy reminds me so much of


Krystal D’Costa

the plants my mother grew in Trinidad. Well, grew should be used loosely since hibiscuses seemed to run wild on our property. It’s a show-stopper in my garden. So much so that when S’s aunts recently visited, they saw the plant and immediately exclaimed, “She’s growing Kali-ma’s flowers!” Flowers play a significant role in cultures around the globe. They’re specifically cultivated and used for decoration, medicine, and cooking oh, and of course for their aromatic tendencies. We display them in vases, we grow them in our front gardens, and we bring them indoors to enhance our home. We give flowers to establish, maintain, and sometimes end relationships. We give them to friends and loved ones whom we count among the living and to those who have passed. There is something vulnerable in offering an item so fragile and so beautiful. This vulnerability lends authenticity to the gesture and makes it suitable in such varied contexts.


We give flowers to establish, maintain, and sometimes end relationships.


Hibiscuses & Hindiuism

These are a few of the reasons flowers play such a large role in Hinduism. Flowers are a main offering to the gods in religious ceremonies. (Hindu gods will also be coaxed by clothing, jewels, perfumes, music, dance, betel and fruit, which are all present in some form during a traditional puja). In Hinduism, gifts to the gods are often in the same spirit as gifts we would offer to one another; giving flowers during a religious ceremony becomes a sign of respect and love, much as it does when we give these items to each other. The gods are associated with specific flowers. The hibiscus belongs to Kali, a manifestation of primordial energy. She represents empowerment, and with that, admittedly, comes destruction, making her a fierce goddess. To understand why she is tied to the hibiscus requires delving into a bit of mythology. Kali is form of Devi, the supreme mother in Hinduism. Devi was willed into existence by the gods, who each gave a piece of themselves to create her, and when she was fully formed, the gods’ worshipped her in part because she was a perfect


Krystal D’Costa

embodiment of all of them. This representation was somewhat self-serving: They had been at war with the demon king Mahishasura. During a break in the battle, Mahishasura declared himself Ruler of the Universe and began to march on Heaven to claim his prize with an army of demons. The gods created Devi out of the best of each of them to defend them, and gifted her with things that were sacred to them: Shiva gave her a trident drawn forth from his own, Vishnu a powerful discus, and Indra, the king of the Gods, gave her a thunderbolt identical to his own. Surya, the sun God, bestowed his rays on all the pores of her skin, and Varuna, god of the ocean, gave her a divine crest jewel, earrings, bracelets and a garland of unfading lotuses. So armed, she met the army of Mahishasura and slaughtered them. She met Mahishasura himself and killed him after a fierce battle. So great was her fury that though the fight had ended, she continued to rage through the battlefield. In giving her so many aspects, the gods had also given Devi many forms. Consumed by rage, Devi was had ful-


Hibiscuses & Hindiuism

ly given herself over to an aspect of her personality tied to Kali, a goddess known for destruction. The gods realized they needed to stop her, but they were all were afraid. Shiva, the god of time and change (Kali’s male counterpart), went down to the battlefield, and laid down. Kali continued to dance until she looked down and realized she was stepping on Shiva. She was embarrassed because in that form, Shiva was a her husband. She withdrew her rage and to demonstrate her shame, stuck out her tongue, which is how she is often depicted. The red hibiscus is representative of Kali’s tongue. But it should not be mistaken for her shame. The hibiscus is symbolic of the blood lust that possesses her. As she represents a form of energy, this blood symbolism becomes life-affirming because it ties her to the life forces that pulse in all of us. Okay, okay, but what does this have to do with my garden? It’s not surprising to me that S’s aunts recognized the hibiscus as a flower belonging to Kali. In Ban-


Krystal D’Costa

gladesh, she’s celebrated in a festival that leads up to the observance of Diwali. But their exclamation caused me to think about why I may have wanted this particular plant beyond it’s aesthetic contribution. In Trinidad, my mom spent a lot of time cultivating a white hibiscus with a red center. She grew dasheen and peppers, and roses. When she moved here, she lost her garden while we lived in rental properties. Once my parents purchased a home, she set about growing the things that reminded her of the life she had left behind. And she used them in the same ways. While we were not an observant family, some of my earliest memories are of getting up early, bathing, and helping her collect marigolds for the annual household puja. I would watch her string these freshly picked flowers into garlands to dress the deities for the day’s festivities. Gardens are one of the ways immigrant families can create cultural spaces, which can then be used to teach children about the symbolism that’s important to them. In this sacred micro-landscape,


Hibiscuses & Hindiuism

while learning about the care and handling of flowers, children also learn a bit about their culture and heritage. I didn’t select the hibiscus for it’s connection to Kali, or for use in any sort of worship. I chose it because it reminded me of a childhood experience. As I’ve farther away from family, and with visits to Trinidad being rare at the moment, perhaps in my own way, I’ve looked to add a bit of my mother’s culture to my garden. Do you have a favorite in your garden that your a relative grew? What sorts of cultural tales does your garden tell?


Using Hibiscus Flower For Skin & Hair


Kristen Collins Jackson

I’ve recently become obsessed with flowers. There are so many powerful plants with an abundance of skin benefits like the hibiscus flower, so it’s no wonder my mild interest has turned into an obsession. Due to the healing properties, hibiscus has been popular in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for centuries. Hibiscus isn’t just another pretty flower: It tones, hydrates, and firms the skin naturally. Until recently, most of my experience with this beautiful flower was drinking hibiscus tea. It’s always helped my uber-sensitive stomach, so I wasn’t incredibly surprised to find that it could help with my temperamental skin too. Burt’s Bees lists hibiscus flowers as a natural source of alphahydroxy acids (AHAs) which exfoliate, speed up cell rejuvenation, control annoying breakouts, and can even improve the elasticity of our skin.


Using Hibiscus Flower For Skin & Hair

Now, there are loads of skin products with synthetic versions of AHAs, but they can come with some negative side effects like making your face way more vulnerable to sun damage. Hibiscus, however, actually can reverse damage from UV rays, disease, and pollution according to sources at Dermatocare.com. One of the first things I look for when in a new natural ingredient is its cleansing properties. According to that same article in Dermatocare. com, hibiscus has natural cleansing properties due to the natural surfactants. So whip up a cup of hibiscus tea and try these five floral beauty rituals - just note that hibiscus can irritate some skin types, so be kind to your bod and do a test patch on the inside of your arm before enjoying these beauty recipes to the fullest!


Kristen Collins Jackson

Whip up a cup of hibiscus tea and try these five floral beauty rituals


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Kristen Collins Jackson

Hair Cleanser To make a something soothing and cleansing for your scalp, start by making hibiscus tea. I used

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half a cup of dried hibiscus leaves and three quarters of a quart of hot water. Then I used half of my tea, mixed it with one third of a cup of apple cider vinegar and a third of a cup of skullcap tea and shook vigorously. You can add essential oils to play with the scent, but it’s totally optional. Massage into your scalp to remove oil and dirt buildup and leave in for about 15 minutes. Rinse well with warm water. I was super pleased with how soft my locks felt after this treatment. Hibiscus & Bay Leaf Facial Steam This was my first time with an at home facial steam and it certainly won’t be my last. Place a handful of bay leaves and hibiscus into a ceramic bowl, then pour enough hot water on top to cover it all. Wait for your brew to cool slightly before placing a towel over your head and leaning closely to the bowl.


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Kristen Collins Jackson

Hibiscus Honey Coffee Exfoliate I used equal parts of hibiscus and honey and added it to freshly brewed coffee grinds (about half a cup) and mixed well with a wooden spoon. Apply on damp, makeup free skin and gently exfoliate the face and neck. This is great for under-eye baggage and waking up your complexion for a perfect morning facial! Hibiscus & Rose Body Scrub I’m loving my new body scrub. It’s super easy to make and you can feel free to swap out ingredients for your preferred oils or exfoliate. I used fine sea salt, coconut oil, safflower oil, dried hibiscus, and dried roses and added a little bit of coconut milk (water works fine to loosen up the mixture too). Blend your ingredients together in a sturdy blender and then add your fave essential oils. I used rose, cedarwood, and lemon essential oils.


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Kristen Collins Jackson

Hibiscus Clay Mask Since I’m all about French clay masks lately, I couldn’t resist infusing my clay with my leftover hibiscus tea. Use enough to get a nice smooth paste and add a few dashes of carrot seed oil (optional). Apply on makeup free, damp skin. Leave your mask on until it starts to harden and rinse well with lukewarm water. The towel will act like a tent for your skin to capture all the nutritious steam. I stayed steaming for about 10 minutes before rinsing with cool water. This is a perfect treat for when you and your skin want to feel pretty. The towel will act like a tent for your skin to capture all the nutritious steam. I stayed steaming for about 10 minutes before rinsing with cool water. This is a perfect treat for when you and your skin want to feel pretty.


Maui Flower Of The Month: Hibiscus


Whether moon white or a deep coral, the hibiscus is the acme of suble messages.


Maui Flower of The Month: Hibiscus

From shell pink petals to deep claret blooms, the hibiscuses of Hawaii are some of the most seductive flowers in the islands. Consider them the first Hawaiians. Prior to the first influx of humans, a number of flora and fauna found their way to Hawaiian shores via migratory birds, winds, and ocean currents. Five varieties of hibiscus arrived on the isolated archipelago and proceeded to flourish in the warm climate and volcanic soil. In the early stages of Hawaii’s colonization by plants and animals, it’s believed that one endemic plant vanished every nine months—ultimately decimating the native population from 50,000 species to a mere 2,600. Those original hibiscus plants not only survived this fragile era but also thrived. Today, more than thirty types of hybridized hibiscus are spread throughout Hawaii. Otherwise known as Aloalo, hibiscuses appear in a kaleido-


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scope of colors and sizes, from the sunset-shaded Key Largo to the Feng Shui-red China Rose. They’re so beloved by Hawaiians they’ve become universally emblematic of the Aloha State. Three to five-lobed with a slender stamen, part of their allure is found in their pithiness: They bloom only once a day, typically for two hours in the afternoon, and die after opening—rendering them all the rarer and more beautiful in their brevity. A favorite of bees and Japanese beetles, Hawaii’s brands of hibiscuses—which bloom in subtropical climates throughout the world—include the lovely kokio keokeo. Tooth-edged and pale—with a face that blooms white before blushing pink—the kokio keokeo’s biggest claim to fame is that it’s the only scented hibiscus on the planet. Ancient Hawaiians relied upon several types of hibiscuses for more than just ornamentals and centerpieces at luaus and weddings.


Maui Flower of The Month: Hibiscus

Natives used dye from hibiscuses’ bark to disguise the color of their fishing nets and lines. Tonics were extracted from the bark, and both in Hawaii and around the planet, hibiscuses were used to treat colds, appetite loss, blood pressure, body temperature, and stomach irritation. The bark’s durability also inspired Polynesians to use its bast fibres—called fau and purau—in the creation of hula skirts and wigs. Established in 1912, Outdoor Circle was started by a group of women who were determined to beautify Honolulu and its surrounding environs—an endeavor that led to island-wide plantings and work towards prohibiting billboards on Oahu (a ban that’s still in effect today). By 1923, they had persuaded the then-territory’s legislature to name the hibiscus the floral representative of the islands. While that award originally went to the ruby-red Chinese varietal, the sunshine-hued Yellow Hibiscus—or ma’o hau hele—assumed the crown in 1988 and has kept it ever since. Present on all of the major Hawaiian Islands ex-


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cept bomb-ravished Kaho’olawe and the isolated isle of Ni’ihau, the ma’o hau hele can grow up to thirty feet tall; some shrubs reach an astounding twenty feet in diameter. And while most trees bloom year round, flowers are most commonly seen in the spring and summer. Despite their health and vibrancy, the Hawaiian hibiscus has become endangered in its native habitat. Many plants are susceptible to what’s known as the hibiscus erineum mite. So diminutive that they’re naked to the human eye, this mite—which wreaks havoc on the health of hibiscuses—arrived in Hawaii in 1989 and is transported from island to nursery to backyard through birds, insects, and winds. Urbanization, ranching, agriculture, alien species—all also pose a threat to hibiscuses, particularly the Hibiscus clayi. Found exclusively in the dry forests of Kauai’s Nounou Mountains, this variety began disappearing after the introduction of cattle in 1928; today, it’s believed that only four


Maui Flower of The Month: Hibiscus

Despite their health and vibrancy, the Hawaiian hibiscus has become endangered in its native habitat.


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“Kauai rose mallow” trees remain. While hibiscuses may be synonymous with Hawaii, they’ve also been long-cherished in other cultures throughout the world. Regarded as one of the most feminine flowers in existence, during the Victorian era hibiscuses were given to indicate attraction and interest. In China, hibiscuses are believed to personify the fleetingness of beauty and fame, no doubt due to the flower’s brief bloom and fast demise. The national flower of Haiti, Malaysia, and South Korea, hibiscuses are also frequently planted to draw hummingbirds to gardens, and are so prominent in parts of Africa that they spurred awardwinning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to title her debut novel Purple Hibiscus. Children in the Philippines crush hibiscuses to create a sticky juice that’s used to blow bubbles through hollow papaya stalks. Mexicans consider it a delicacy. And Indian art frequently features hibiscuses, in large part because it serves as the flower of the


Maui Flower of The Month: Hibiscus

Hindu goddess Kali. Considered by many to be tantamount to delicate beauty, hibiscus is also a boon to organic skincare, leading some to call it natural Botox for its exfoliating and emollient properties. In Egypt, hibiscus is used to create a drink called “karkade”—essentially a tea, permeated with dried hibiscus leaves, that offers imbibers a substantial dose of antioxidants. (Indeed, hibiscus tea is served around the world.) Additionally, while traditionalists may have used hibiscuses for everything from treating upper respiratory tract pain and swelling, science today shows that it supports relief from indigestion and kidney ailments. And culinary hibiscuses are a tart addition to recipes around the planet, from sorrel in Jamaica—in which the flower is brewed with orange peel, ginger, and spices—to a spicy shandy in Trinidad. Back in Hawaii, hibiscuses are almost as prevalent as palm trees, particularly in the sunnier parts of the islands. And whether moon white or a deep coral, the hibiscus is the acme of subtle messages:


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Worn behind the left ear, and a woman is taken; worn behind the right, and she’s, well, rightly available. Wear it proudly: It was once considered a sign of royalty. Images: 1. pp. 2–3, 56–57: “Hawaii hibiscus“ Aliyah N. C. 2017. 2. pp. 6–7: “Kona Double Hibiscus.” Village Nurseries. A division of Tree Town USA. 2017. 3. pp. 16–17: “Hibiscus sabdariffa.” Khổ Qua Thóc. Wordpress. 2014. 4. pp. 34–35: “Kali Maa.” Piyali’s Album. Times Internet Limited. India Times Lifestyle Network. 2015. 5. pp. 46–47: “Dried Native Hibiscus Petal”. Sally W. Donatello. Lens and Pens by Sally. Wordpress. 2014.


H Display text: Chaparral Pro Body text: Minion Pro Designer/editor: Aliyah Campbell

All content found in these pages is the original property of its creators and owners. Articles, interviews, photographs, and other texts were collected and organized for the compilation of this book, which was created as a student design project. Some texts have been condensed, reformated, and edited to increase readability. Photographs have been edited to optimize their printed appearance.


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