Hibiscus sabdariffa, also known as Guinean sorrel, is a plant from the Malvaceae family whose dry flowers produce a red juice called bissap. Bissap is sweet and tasty, generally enjoyed cold with ice and is said to be healthy.
Hibiscus sabdariffa flowers can also reduce arterial tension, fever and menstrual pain in women. This plant can be found throughout West Africa, in Guinea, Senegal, Togo and Ivory Coast. It also grows in central Africa and Egypt.
Baobab is Madagascar’s national tree. Nicknamed Tree of Life, it provides shelter, shade, food and water. Its leaves can also be used for medicinal treatments. The fruit, called monkey bread or akoussa, contains vitamin C and tastes like grapefruit. There are eight species of baobab.
Most of them are in Madagascar with the exception of one species (adansonia gregorii) found in Australia. Baobabs live a long life and can grow up to forty meters tall. They are often called arbre à palabres, a place where villagers can gather to discuss daily issues.
Protea cynaroides, or Royal Protea, is the national flower of South Africa. The name protea refers to Proteus, a sea divinity from Greek mythology and son of Poseidon, the sea god (Neptune for the Romans).
Proteus would change his appearance at will, a useful gift to escape prickly situations. Similarly the Proteaceae family is composed of eighty species that can take different forms. The Royal Protea. along with the springbok antelope, make up the second national symbol found on the South African rugby jersey.