Hibiscus syriacus

Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves; Oil; Root.

Edible Uses: Oil; Tea.

Young leaves - raw or cooked. A very mild flavour, though slightly on the tough side, they make an acceptable addition to the salad bowl. A tea is made from the leaves or the flowers. Flowers - raw or cooked. A mild flavour and mucilaginous texture, they are delightful in salads, both for looking at and for eating. Root - it is edible but very fibrousy. Mucilaginous, without very much flavour.

Medicinal Uses

Anthelmintic; Antiphlogistic; Antipruritic; Demulcent; Diuretic; Emollient; Expectorant; Febrifuge; Ophthalmic; Skin; Stomachic;


The leaves are diuretic, expectorant and stomachic[218, 240]. A decoction of the flowers is diuretic, ophthalmic and stomachic. It is also used in the treatment of itch and other skin diseases[240], dizziness and bloody stools accompanied by much gas. The bark contains several medically active constituents, including mucilage, carotenoids, sesquiterpenes and anthocyanidins[279]. A decoction of the root bark is antiphlogistic, demulcent, emollient, febrifuge, haemostatic and vermifuge. It is used in the treatment of diarrhoea, dysentery, abdominal pain, leucorrhoea, dysmenorrhoea[240, 279] and dermaphytosis.

Other Uses

Dye; Fibre; Hair; Hedge; Hedge; Oil.

A low quality fibre is obtained from the stems. It is used for making cordage and paper. The seed contains about 25% oil. No further details are given, but it is likely to be edible. A hair shampoo is made from the leaves[74]. A blue dye is obtained from the flowers. This species is planted as a hedge in S. Europe.

Hibiscus syriacus

A naturalized mallow common in the South is the rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus, also known by Althaea frutex), a deciduous, shrubby tree that produces flowers of pale purple with dark pink centers, or white with reddish centers. Although the Hibiscus species is likely native to Asia, the name comes from a Palestinian valley named Sharon, which is referenced by the bride in the Old Testament, Song of Songs, 2:1, "I am the rose of Sharon."

Culinary uses of rose of Sharon make one wonder why we don't see them more on the plate. Besides the obvious use as a garnish, the flowers of rose of Sharon can be chopped and added to dishes, or left whole for salads. They make colorful, edible, presentation cups for dips. The leaves are edible when cooked, and can be added to quiche or greens. The leaves and flowers also can be brewed as an antioxidant tea.

Medicinally, rose of Sharon's flower buds contain mucilage, a gooey medicinal compound made of polysaccharides, found in most species of the mallow family; think of okra's sliminess. Mucilage can be used to heal burns, wounds, gastric ulcers and internal and external inflammation and irritation, such as sore throats or urinary tract infections.

Current studies on the root bark have found promising results for inhibiting the proliferation of lung cancer. The Chinese use the root bark as an antifungal remedy.

Due to rose of Sharon's long life, prolific seed production and ease of propagation, harvesting the plant is very sustainable. There is nothing harmful known about rose of Sharon, either. Actually, rose of Sharon leaves can be used to indicate harm by serving as an ozone bioindicator - they burn where ozone exposure is harmfully high.

Additionally, two North American native Hibiscus plants share the culinary uses of rose of Sharon's flower. Swamp-rose (Hibiscus moscheutos) and swamp hibiscus (H. coccineus) - which both display stunning, hummingbird-attracting blooms of red, pink, cream or white - are commercially available, and add a vivid splash of color to teas and salads. The flowers contain antioxidants and can have a soothing effect on the nerves.

Although the leaves are edible, they aren't quite as palatable as the rose of Sharon.

Another edible and medicinal plant of the mallow family is the hollyhock (Alcea rosea, or Althaea rosea), the iconic flowering towers of the English cottage-garden. Hollyhock leaves can be cooked like spinach, and its flowers can be added to salads. The demulcent root, high in mucilage, makes a wonderful cough syrup.

Am J Chin Med. 2008;36(1):171-84. The extract of Hibiscus syriacus inducing apoptosis by activating p53 and AIF in human lung cancer cells.

Cheng YL, Lee SC, Harn HJ, Huang HC, Chang WL.

Laboratory of Herbal Medicine and Molecular Oncology in Division of Thoracic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Tri-Service General Hospital, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei 114, Taiwan. ndmc0928@yahoo.com.tw

Natural products including plants, microorganisms and marine life provide rich resources for anticancer drug discovery. The root bark of Hibiscus syriacus has been used as an antipyretic, anthelmintic and antifungal agent in Asia. The antiproliferative effects of H. syriacus on human lung cancer cells were evaluated with bio-assays. The apoptotic activity was detected by Hoechst 33342 DNA staining and annexin V staining. The expression of caspases, p53, apoptosis induced factor (AIF), Bcl-2 and Bax were evaluated with Western blotting. The in vivo anticancer activity was evaluated using A549-xenograft model. The acetone extract of H. syriacus (HS-AE) exhibited a better cytotoxic effect on lung cancer cells than its methanol extract (HS-ME) or water extract (HS-WE). The IC(50) values of HS-AE on A549 (adenocarcinoma), H209 (squamous cell carcinoma) or H661 (large cell carcinoma) lung cancer cells ranged from 14 to 22 microg/ml after 48 hours of treatment. After 48 hours of exposure, HS-AE (15 microg/ml) induced A549 cell apoptosis to 48 +/- 3.6% of the control. Using Western blotting, HS-AE appears to suppress the expression of p53 and AIF. The results of the in vivo study showed that HS-AE suppresses growth in A549 subcutaneous xenograft tumors. These results indicate that HS-AE exerts significant and dose-dependent antiproliferative effects on cancer cells in vitro and in vivo, which prompts us to further evaluate and elucidate the bioactive component(s) of H. syriacus.

Mycobiology. Nonanoic Acid, an Antifungal Compound from Hibiscus syriacus Ggoma. Yun-Woo Jang, Jin-Young Jung, [...], and Bong-Sik Yun

The root of Hibiscus syriacus (Malvaceae) has been used for treatment of fungal diseases such as tinea pedis (athlete's foot). In this study, we investigated the antifungal constituent of the root of Hibiscus syriacus Ggoma, which was produced by a mutation breeding using gamma ray irradiation, and compared the antifungal activity of H. syriacus Ggoma and its parent type. According to the results, the methanolic extract of H. syriacus Ggoma exhibited four times higher antifungal activity than its parent type against Trichophyton mentagrophytes. Following purification through various column chromatographies, the antifungal substance was identified as nonanoic acid on the basis of spectroscopic analysis.

Keywords: Antifungal compound, Hibiscus syriacus Ggoma, Nonanoic acid

Antifungal agents have been used for treatment of fungal infections. The root bark of Hibiscus syriacus (Malvaceae), which is widely distributed over East Asia, has been used as an antifungal agent for treatment of athlete's foot [1, 2]. Previous studies of the chemical constituents of the root of H. syriacus have reported on hibispeptins A and B [3], triterpene caffeates [4], and syriacusins A-C [5] as antioxidants; however, no studies on antifungal substances have been reported. Recently, a new H. syriacus mutant, designated as H. syriacus Ggoma, was produced by a mutation breeding using gamma ray irradiation and has been grown as an ornamental plant for approximately four years [6]. This study has been conducted for comparison of the antifungal activity of the root extracts of H. syriacus Ggoma and its parent type, and an antifungal constituent from the root of H. syriacus has been isolated by repeated column chromatography and identified by extensive use of spectroscopic methods.

Hibiscus syriacus and its mutant, H. syriacus Ggoma were cultivated at the Herbal garden, Advanced Radiation Technology Institute-Jeongeup, Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, Korea, and their roots were collected in July 2007.

For comparison of the antifungal activity of H. syriacus and its mutant, H. syriacus Ggoma, extraction of their ground roots (56 g for each) was performed twice using methanol. A dermatophyte, Trichophyton mentagrophytes, was used for estimation of their antifungal activities by the conventional paper disk (Advantec, 8 mm in diameter) method. In brief, paper disks containing 50 µg samples were placed on an agar plate inoculated with the test organism. Assessment of antibiotic activity was performed by measuring the diameter of the zone of inhibition after incubation for five days at 27℃. According to the results, the methanolic extract of H. syriacus Ggoma exhibited four times higher activity than that of its parent type. This finding indicates that a mutation breeding using gamma ray irradiation can result in significant variation in metabolism and can be an efficient method for achievement of high production of valuable plant materials.

The root bark of H. syriacus has been used as an antifungal agent for treatment of athlete's foot; however, the compound responsible for this activity remains unclear. Therefore, we investigated the antifungal constituents and their productivity in H. syriacus and its mutant, H. syriacus Ggoma. For isolation of antifungal substance, roots of H. syriacus and its mutant, H. syriacus Ggoma (1 kg for each) were ground and extracted twice using methanol for 24 hr. The methanolic extracts were combined and concentrated under reduced pressure. The concentrate was dissolved in water, followed by consecutive partitioning with hexane, chloroform, ethyl acetate, and butanol. The hexane-soluble portion, which exhibited potent antifungal activity, was subjected to a Sephadex LH-20 column eluted with chloroform : methanol (1 : 1, v/v). Preparative thin layer chromatography (chloroform : methanol = 20 : 1) was performed for purification of an antifungal fraction, followed by Sephadex LH-20 column chromatography eluted with chloroform : methanol (1 : 1, v/v) to provide compound 1


1. Hsu HY, Chen YP, Shen SJ, Hsu CS, Chen CC, Chang HC. Oriental materia medica: a concise guide. Taiwan: Oriental Healing Arts Institute; 1986. pp. 503–504.

2. Huang KC. The pharmacology of Chinese herbs. Tokyo: CRC Press; 1993. pp. 193–194.

3. Yun BS, Ryoo IJ, Lee IK, Yoo ID. Hibispeptin B, a novel cyclic peptide from Hibiscus syriacus. Tetrahedron. 1998;54:15155–15160.

4. Yun BS, Ryoo IJ, Lee IK, Park KH, Choung DH, Han KH, Yoo ID. Two bioactive pentacyclic triterpene esters from the root bark of Hibiscus syriacus. J Nat Prod. 1999;62:764–766. [PubMed]

5. Yoo ID, Yun BS, Lee IK, Ryoo IJ, Choung DH, Han KH. Three naphthalenes from root bark of Hibiscus syriacus. Phytochemistry. 1998;47:799–802. [PubMed]

6. Song HS, Park IS, Lim YT, Kim JK, Lee GJ, Kim DS, Lee SJ, Kang SY. A dwarf type new rose of Sharon variety, "Ggoma" developed by a mutation breeding. Korean J Breed. 2006;38:293–294.

7. Aneja M, Gianfagna TJ, Hebbar PK. Trichoderma harzianum produces nonanoic acid, an inhibitor of spore germination and mycelial growth of two cacao pathogens. Physiol Mol Plant Pathol. 2005;67:304–307.