Minggu, 13 Januari 2008

Missus Hibiscus

(roselle bloom)

i have secret, serial affair with hibiscus.

Fist was at elementary school, class of 4b. we students must line up in three before entering the class. Boys, always stood in the back rows, befriended the hibiscus shrubs. we often picked the stamens and put it on the middle part of boys standing in front, staining the pants with its yellow pollens, and then mischievously yelled, 'hey, he poos!' okay, that was rude.

later when the dirty game lost its appeal, we paid more respect to the plant that we call kembang sepatu. We discovered that the leaves meke excellent bubbles [chop some leaves, mix it well with a pinch of detergent]. we blew it and played bubble catching.

when we were at 6th grade, Bu Etik taught us flower arrangement. She enquired us, divided into small groups, to bring cut flowers from home and display some skill before her.

one forgetful group returned to the shrubs and robbed them off. miraculously Bu Etik found out about the foul act and sent them to apologise to the shrubs :)

Hibiscus has several major families, most notably: Hibiscus and Althea,

but the truth is, my first acquaintance with hibiscus was with gedi, whose family is not Hibiscus, but Abelmoschus. it has fingerlike leaves like those of cassava [singkong]. and if you know tinutuan or bubur manado and wonder why it is gluey, the you know it. real tinutuan always contains daun gedi as a tickening agent. Mom does it well when she partly dried the leaves under the sun to reduce its 'glue' content, even better when she serves it with sambal ikan teri or ikan roa. yum yum

after yeas of eating it, finally i saw its bright yellow flowers when i was in highschool. cool.

Rose of Sharon
Jesus is the rose of Sharon . . . so goes the song. Solomon even likened himself with the flower [check the Songs of Songs book]. I later discovered that it is a hibiscus: H. syriacus. It resembles the flowers of waru (H. tiliaceus) only brighter and more attractive.

We had one back at Lawang. Tall and heavy with leaves. One old lady often harvested the leaves for wrappings at market. One day a man left his cat under the tree but Mami refused our plea to adopt the poor cat. The tree contiually bloomed and dropped the flowers for us to sweep.

Do you know that the sweet, spongey candy was originally taken from the roots of marshmallow (Althea officinalis)?

Mami calls it kacang pontianak. Later i learnt that this too ishibiscus. if you want to thicken your soup, put its pods in the boiling soup minutes before serving. delicious!


(roselle pods)

This lovely plant is often sold at flower shops without leaves. the red appearance makes it a good border plants. Mami likes to make syrup from its pods or dries it to make refreshig bright red tea. lovely. Hibiscus sabdariffa is an annual shrub.

I think I'm gonna have lifelong affair with hibiscus. In fact, you perhaps have the same affair :)


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