I first saw the hisbiscus flower whilst living in Cascais near Lisbon in the late 1990s. I was so struck by its vibrancy, along with the brilliance of all the other native flora, that I experienced my own blossoming as an artist.
I recently designed a scarf reflecting the various pinks that hibiscus manifests itself in, and it made me want to find out a bit more about this enchanting flower. It has some really interesting meanings and uses, and I thought I would share a few of the facts that I discovered with you.
The word hibiscus comes from the Greek word Hibiskos, meaning mallow, as the plant is from the Mallow family. It grows in hot, humid climates and there are over 200 varieties. The red variety is known as the Rose of China/China Rose. In China the hibiscus is associated with wealth, glory or fame.
All hibiscus flowers are short-lived, and so in many cultures they symbolise women and youthful or delicate beauty or perfection. Conversely, in South Korea, they represent immortality, and in Malaysia, they seem to have a bit more vitality as they are known as the celebration flower. For these two countries the flower is so significant it’s represented on national symbols or currency.
But the hibiscus is perhaps most famously associated with Hawaii where it is the state flower, and the one used to make the famous welcome gift of the lei. To the Hawaiians the flower symbolises power, respect and hospitality. Though interestingly, women also wear it behind their ears and which ear they choose communicates a message about their availability to men.
In Africa and the Americas (amongst other places) the hibiscus flower is widely drunk as a tea.
The health benefits of hibiscus tea or Agua de Jamaica, according to the website organicfacts, include its ability to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, disturbed digestive and immune system, and inflammatory problems. It helps cure liver diseases and reduces the risk of cancer (allegedly). It can also speed up the metabolism and help in healthy, gradual weight loss. It is rich in vitamin C, minerals, and antioxidants and helps in the treatment of hypertension and anxiety.
N.B If you are going to try this please make sure you buy it from a reputable health store and seek their expert advice before taking the tea, particularly as it can interact with other medications.
In Britain the hibiscus was widely used as a decorative design in the Victorian era. In fact, it is still a common motif on many fabrics and objects worldwide, like these beautiful clothes and accessories.
So there you have it; around the world the hibiscus flower variously symbolises health, delicacy, beauty, glory, immortality, power, respect and hospitality. For me, it means inspiration, and journeying. To everyone, it’s an iconic, stand-out emblem, and always in fashion.
Why not stand out in your own luxurious hibiscus scarf or pocket square and discover what the beautiful hibiscus flower means to you?
The three hibiscus designs above at shopblueflamingo.com/shop/womens are: 1) Hibiscus on silk scarf, 2) Hibiscus on cashmere and 3) Hibiscus on silk pocket square for men.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog. As always please leave your comments below. I love to hear from you.