Mesta Fibre  

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.


The 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 constituents.


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.


Economic importance :

The economic importances of Hibiscus sabdariffa L. Var. altissima are:


  • 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 other industries.



The economic 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



Major Production Area:


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 domestically.


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.



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