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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Griffin, Georgia » Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit » Research » Research Project #443647

Research Project: Selection of Superior Calyx and Seed Producing Hibiscus Sabdariffa Genotypes for New Food and Tea Production

Location: Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit

Project Number: 6046-21000-013-034-N
Project Type: Non-Funded Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: May 1, 2023
End Date: Dec 31, 2025

Hibiscus sabdariffa commonly known as roselle is an annual plant in the Malvaceae family and is grown primarily in tropical and subtropical countries for stem fibers, paper pulp and edible calyces, leaves and seeds. The National Plant Germplasm System consists of 86 and 56 accessions at the Plant Genetic Resources Conservation Unit (PGRCU) in Griffin, Georgia and the National Laboratory for Genetic Resource Preservation (NLGRP) in Ft. Collins, Colorado, respectively. Hibiscus sabdariffa is a very important plant useful in the food and nutritional industries and communities. The calyces are used in Christmas drinks, salads, pie filling, sauce, juice, syrup, jam, relish, jelly, and perhaps its most important use as a health tea. We have evaluated calyces from several accessions in the PGRCU collection with elevated flavonol concentrations including quercetin, kaempferol, and myricetin. These flavonols are very important because they have been shown by other researchers to have several health attributes such as antioxidants, cholesterol lowering effects, and cancer prevention. This project will Identify and select genotypes of Hibiscus sabdariffa for high quality calyx and seed production for new food and tea production at two locations in Georgia. The selected seed and calyx producing H. sabdariffa genotypes would be used to produce jelly, chutney, and tea by the cooperating company farm, Pride Road, LLC. This will benefit the lab because H. sabdariffa is considered an under-utilized crop. This research shows the importance of using germplasm in the National Plant Germplasm System for the development of under-utilized species such as H. sabdariffa in the new food use areas.

Transplant one month old seedlings from selected accessions of Hibiscus sabdariffa genotypes, respectively in the field at Bryron, Georgia, (USDA, ARS) and Jasper County, Georgia, (Pride Road, LLC) on or about May 1, 2023, 2024, and 2025. The most productive H. sabdariffa genotypes will be selected and grown at both locations until the end of each year 2023, 2024, and 2025. The research conducted will include selection of the best agronomically and superior producing calyces and seeds from several H. sabdariffa plants grown under field conditions. Superior production analysis will be conducted on high yields of calyces, seeds, and high quality plant performance characteristics such as optimum plant height, width, maturity, and tolerance to lodging. Variability for identifying the best producing genotypes for calyx and seed production will be accomplished. Harvest physiologically mature calyces with seed capsules from the H. sabdariffa genotypes between 5 to 6 months after planting. Calyces from the selected H. sabdariffa genotypes grown at the Pride Road farm in Jasper County, Georgia, will be processed into jelly, chutney, and tea for marketing. Pride Road will provide feedback data regarding how productive the H. sabdariffa genotypes are for calyx and seed production as well as important information about how the calyces taste to USDA, ARS, PGRCU in Griffin, Georgia. If positive results occur, publication of the data will be pursued. Pride Road will provide their phenotypic data from the H. sabdariffa genotypes tested for public release by USDA, ARS, PGRCU. USDA, ARS, PCRCU will have access to the seeds produced by Pride Road, LLC for use by others as needed.