Saril is related to hibiscus, but unlike hibiscus after the flowers drop off the calyx becomes fleshy and turns bright red. (Calyx is a term for leaf like parts under the petals. The green points under a rose bud are the calyx) . The calyces taste like sour cherries and can be used to make jam and pie filling.
Saril starts flowering in November and is harvested through January. In Panama it is used to make a traditional Christmas and New Year's drink.
To make this saril tea boil the calyces with diced ginger in enough water to cover them. Then, strain out the red tea and add sugar to taste. You may need to add water if the flavors are too concentrated,
The tea is served chilled and seco (sugar cane alcohol) is frequently added. This drink came to Panama as part of Jamaican culture so "traditional" means Jamaican-style.
We got some saril seeds from a fellow PC volunteer more than a year ago. This January we harvested several bushes worth of saril. The flowers and the bush are pretty and they grew quickly especially considering the poor soil around our house. After the plants died and dried Ithey are an annual - only living about nine months) we collected some of the seeds to distribute to other volunteers in Panama.