I regularly brew, serve, and drink jamaica here at the house, and have never given much thought to the plant itself, other than realizing it is some form of hibiscus. Jamaica is actually from the Hibiscus sabdariffa plant, which is apparently also known as roselle. .
Another popular use of the Hibiscus sabdariffa is for the production of bast fibre.
There are apparently a lot of cooking applications and I am curious to research more of them and give them a try! You can make jelly, roselle jelly, can't wait to give that a shot! I have on occasion used the flowers after brewing the beverage in stirfrys. The green leaves are apparently similar to a spicy spinach, perhaps similar to arugula.
A friend recently gifted to me a plant he picked up at a flea market here in Merida.
Check this out!
This is the actual plant from which jamaica tea is brewed.
How awesome is this. A different friend, who is from Hunucma, just outside of Merida was here a few days ago and we were talking about this plant - He advises me that this plant doesn't typically grow here, but rather is typically found growing in Tabasco. Well we'll see, I 'm going to try to keep it alive, wish me luck!
By the way -- from WIKI -- Many parts of the plant are also claimed to have various medicinal values. They have been used for such purposes ranging from Mexico through Africa and India to Thailand. Roselle is associated with traditional medicine and is reported to be used as treatment for several diseases such as hypertension and urinary tract infections. There is currently insufficient evidence to demonstrate any beneficial effect of roselle on raised blood pressure or on blood lipid lowering. Experimental results are contradictory.
Hibiscus sabdariffa has shown in vitro antimicrobial activity against E. coli. A recent review stated that specific extracts of H. sabdariffa exhibit activities against atherosclerosis, liver disease, cancer, diabetes and other metabolic syndromes.