Rose Of China

(Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) All over the tropics, women use the flowers for adornment, and Hawaiian welcome necklaces are made from them (Perry. 1972). But among the names given to the flower, some are distinctly odd-looking, like Shoeflower (Wit), used in Jamaica, or Shoe Black (Campbell-Culver), or Blacking Plant (J Smith. 1882). The truth is that the red of the flowers becomes black when they are bruised, and can then be used for blacking shoes (or for colouring the eyebrows). In India, though, it was thought to be a medium for witches' evil-doing. It was quite common to see the flowers put at crossroads, etc., so that people who touched them would become possessed by evil spirits (Upadhyaya).

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