The Rosella bush produces red edible calyxes that are high in vitamin C. They have a pleasant tart-sweet flavour that goes well in salads, jellies, red sauces, jams, cordials, syrups, fruit teas and wine. They are often found in shops, preserved whole in syrup or liquid, as a decorative and flavouring additive for cocktails, white wine or champagne. The seeds may be roasted and ground into flour. The young leaves may be steamed or stir-fried – these are also known as red sorrel.
After flowering, the large fleshy calyx is ready for harvesting. The first harvest is usually underwhelming, but this plant will produce a more prolific harvest after its second flowering in Autumn. Simply snip the plumpest calyxes straight off the bush.
Rosella is a hardy plant, adapted to a range of Australian climates. It can survive dry spells, but for best results, plant in fertile, well-drained soil and water regularly. A tropical plant, Rosella is frost sensitive and grows as an annual in regions with cold winters. In this case, leave a few calyxes unharvested before Winter, then save the seeds for a future planting.
This plant can reach up to heights of 2m in a very short period, though it also grows comfortably in a vegetable bed or a large pot.
Rosella is a fast-growing annual that loves the heat. It’s normal for this species to die during winter.
How do I pick Rosella flowers?
A couple days after blooming, the flower petals will shrivel up and fall off, leaving the ripe, red calyx. It should appear closed and have a solid feel. If ready for harvest, it should easily snap off the plant.
How do I prepare my Rosella calyxes for cooking?
First, sever off the stem, then cut a slit lengthwise along the calyx and pop out the seed pod using your fingers. This will leave you with the sweet calyx flesh, intact and ready for cooking.
Do I need to prune my Rosella?
Yes. After the first harvest in Summer, prune your Rosella bush back by one-third to encourage new growth for your next harvest.