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Rose of Sharon Tree
Rose of sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) is a landscape plant native to Asia but very commonly planted in the US. It is a cold hardy tree or shrub with large tropical looking flowers, unmistakable once you’ve seen them. Its edibility is often unknown, but there are a number of reasons to consider this plant for your next soup, salad, or sandwich.
Edibility And Culinary Use
The edible leaves of rose of sharon tree are available all spring, summer and fall. They taste like lettuce but have a mucilaginous texture, which is pretty refreshing. Because of this they make a great lettuce substitute in salads or sandwiches. If you make your salad in late summer then you get the additional bonus of adding the edible flowers to the bowl. They add some visual spunk, and the taste is great, mild, with a hint of nectar at the base of the petals. I also love to eat the unopened flower buds, they make a great alternative vegetable, eat them raw or cooked as a okra substitute. This recipe uses a traditional okra recipe and replaces it with rose of sharon. The mucilaginous texture described above is a great thickening agent for soups, and sauces. Another popular way to get the health benefits from this plant is to make a tea from the leaves and flowers.
The number one health benefit known to science from consuming Rose of sharon tree is that it lowers blood pressure. The plant is still being studied to determine what other benefits it may hold. It does contain vitamin C, and anthocyanins which are antioxidants.
How to Identify Rose of Sharon
There are many good reasons to add Rose of sharon tree to your diet. First of all it is a perennial plant, so once you’ve found it, you don’t have to go searching again, and finding it is easy since it is such a common landscape plant. It has a mild taste with many uses. It also has some important health benefits. So don’t overlook this beautiful edible.
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