"HIBISCUS" story

"HIBISCUS" by Linda Kinney

“Hibiscus” is a 5" (12.7 cm) square gallery wrapped oil painting on canvas. It is part of a set of 4 flower paintings owned by my cousin, Dee Cowsert. She exhibits them in a grouping, rearranging the grouping for desired decoration effect. The collection includes “Hibiscus”, “Sunflower”, “Purple Shasta”, and “New Rose”.

I have always loved flowers, but as a young age, I was taught that many of them were created not just for their beauty, but they have a very beneficial purpose for the human body. I suggest that if people would learn more about this subject and eat the appropriate flower or plant, we would require less medications. For instance, the hibiscus flower combined with dandelion roots make a great tea. The hibiscus can help with weight loss and cancer, among other health concerns. Both flowers are members of the huge Daisy family and the entire flower, petals, stems, leaves, and roots are edible.

When I was a teenager, my family lived in Alaska. The temperatures were far too cold for hibiscus, but other related flowers grew abundantly. My mom was always trying something new, so when one of her neighbors told her she was making dandelion wine, Mom had to try it. I’m sure if there had been wild hibiscus she would have tried that because every flower has a different flavor. She also made wine from wild blueberries and cranberries. Early in the summer she gave each of us kids baskets and sent us out to the wild berry patches. They were plentiful and easy to find. I remember thoughts of apprehension as I said, “Mom! The bears are waking up!” Immediately she said, “They don’t eat kids, they want the berries. Just don’t scare them. Make lots of noise and let them know you are there.” “WHAT? Let them know we are here?” She laughed and said, “Yes, the momma bears will have their cubs and will be protecting them. The bears know you are there long before you know they are. The human smell, you know.” No, I didn’t know. I took a bath. Young children in a foreign land, its very interesting. My parents taught us no fear. “Be careful, not stupid”, they would say. We had many learning experiences during those five years in Alaska and I am thankful for each one. I look back sometimes and wonder how difference my life would have been if Dad had not been transferred to ‘the wilderness’ in the military.

The hibiscus is one of the more than 250 species of herbs, shrubs, and trees of the Mallow family. It is a tropical plant and is known to have originated in Asia and the Pacific Islands. It is among the most beautiful of the tropical flowers with over 5,000 varieties in existence in colors of red, white, pink, and orange. It can grow as tall as 15 feet in frost-free locations and makes a beautiful flowering tree.

It is a fairly unknown fact that the hibiscus belongs to the same family as cocoa, cotton, and okra. It also belongs to the same family as the baobab tree found in arid regions of Madagascar, mainland Africa, Arabia, and Australia. This tree is also called the ‘tree of life’ because it has so many benefits. They provide nutritional food, their bark can be made into rope and cloth. The wood can be harvested for hunting and fishing tools. The seeds hold an oil that is used in cosmetics. They live for more than 1,000 years, with some living for 2,000 years. It has a medical value and is used to treat a variety of ailments and is also used for culinary purposes, making popular commercial teas.