Some may only see it as a simple flower, but for Okinawans, this brightly colored, tropical flower is more than just decoration.
Coming in a variety of white, pink, and red shades, the hibiscus, otherwise known as the akabana, blooms year-round and is a plant known to be in tropical areas. With this in mind, it comes to no surprise that the hibiscus varieties flourish in sunny Okinawa. Loving climates that nurture plenty of sunshine and moisture in the air, hibiscus usually are at their peak during the spring and summer times.
Characterized by its long and curvy petals and leaves, there are over 5,000 variants of the hibiscus around the world, though many of the ones that are recognized are the flowers with 5 petals, long staminal columns, and luscious green leaves. In Okinawa, these flowers greet you on your way to work, school, or wherever you may be adventuring and really accentuates the atmosphere with tropical bliss. Of all the species of hibiscus in Okinawa, the one that is most prevalent are the ones considered in the “Hawaiian Hibiscus” category.
But, again, they’re not only for decoration! Hibiscus are also known to be great for fiber consumption and health benefits. When not used simply for decoration, these flowers are used to make infused teas, cake toppers, or even in ice cream~
According to HealthLine, hibiscus flowers have been known to help with:
- Weight loss
- Cancer prevention
- Upset stomach
- High blood pressure
- Bacterial infections
But although these benefits are available from these petals, it is advised that small children or pregnant women refrain from consuming too much, as there is not enough research to see if there are any adverse effects. It is also advised not to eat anything except of the petals of the flower as the other parts may not be as tasteful or can cause upset tummies in some (which is really funny, considering the petals help with upset stomach… :P).
When people are asked what hibiscus tastes like, it is usually described as sour or tart, so many do enjoy sipping or eating this flower with just a tiny bit of sugar. However, for those who are more health-inclined might skip the sugar and appreciate the natural sour taste of the flower.
Overall, these flowers may be pretty but they aren’t just something to look at… With the benefits that they provide, it’s no wonder that Okinawa has infused them into their diet in forms of hot or cold infused teas, ice cream, and much more!
Do you have any experiences with hibiscus? Let us know in the comments below! 🙂
Links to Additional Hibiscus Resources:
The Tropical Flower, Hibiscus by Ocean Expo Park
All You Need to Know About Hibiscus by HealthLine