Roselle/Mesta (Hibiscus sabdariffa L) has two distinct
varieties. Mesta (Hibiscus sabdariffa L. Var.
altissima) is the species used for fibre, although the
edible Hibiscus sabdariffa L is also called mesta. The
stems are erect, solid, cylindrical, un-branched, mostly
bristled, rarely glabrous, green, red, pigmented in various
shades reaching a height of one to five meter.
other type of mesta Hibiscus sabdariffa var sabdariffa
embraces shorter bushy forms herbaceous subshrub to 8 ft (2.4 m)
tall. This form is mainly used for vegetables.
Chemical Composition of Mesta:
The main chemical constituents of Mesta fibres are generally
divided into three main categories, namely cellulose,
hemicelluloses and lignin as well as some other minute
Cellulose – 44-47 %
Lignin – 15-19 %
Pentosan – 22-23 %
Ash – 2-5 %
The plants are rich in anthocyanins, as well as protocatechuic
acid. The main chemical constituents of Mesta calyces are
carbohydrates, proteins, citric acid, ascorbic acid, hibiscin
acid, tartaric acid, delphinine, hibiscetin, hibiscin,
sabdaretin, resin, minerals and ash.
The economic importances of Hibiscus sabdariffa L. Var.
The fibre is used as an alternative to jute fibre and also
blended with jute in the manufacture of jute goods namely,
cordage, sackings, hessain, canvas and rough sacks, ropes,
twines, fishing nets etc.
The stalks are used in making paper pulp, structural boards,
as a blend for wood pulp and thatching huts.
In recent years, it has been proved that the crop could be
allowed till seed setting stage and the sticks after seed
collection can be utilized for pulp production to
manufacture all types of papers.
The seed contains 18-20 per cent oil and is used in soap and
importances of Hibiscus sabdariffa var sabdariffa are:
Roselle fruits are best prepared for use by washing, then
making an incision around the tough base of the calyx below
the bracts to free and remove it with the seed capsule
attached. The calyces are then ready for immediate use.
Roselle sauce or sirup may be added to puddings, cake
frosting, gelatins and salad dressings, also poured over
gingerbread, pancakes, waffles or ice cream.
Juice made by cooking a quantity of calyces with 1/4 water
in ratio to amount of calyces, is used for cold drinks and
may be frozen or bottled if not for immediate needs.
The young leaves and tender stems of roselle are eaten raw
in salads or cooked as greens alone or in combination with
other vegetables or with meat or fish
China and Thailand are the largest producers and control much of
the world supply. Thailand invested heavily in Mesta production
and their product is of superior quality, whereas China's
product, with less stringent quality control practices, is less
reliable and reputable. The world's best mesta comes from the
Sudan, but the quantity is low and poor processing hampers
quality. Mexico, Egypt, Senegal, Tanzania, Mali and Jamaica are
also important suppliers but production is mostly used
In the Indian subcontinent (especially in the Ganges Delta
region), mesta is cultivated for vegetable fibres. Most of its
fibres are locally consumed. However, the fibre (as well as
cuttings or butts) from the mesta plant has great demand in
various natural fibre using industries.
Mesta is a relatively new crop to create an industry in
Malaysia. It was introduced in early 1990s and its commercial
planting was first promoted in 1993 by the Department of
Agriculture in Terengganu. The planted acreage was 12.8 ha
(30 acres) in 1993, but had steadily increased to peak at 506 ha
(1,000 acres) in 2000.