Synonym: Malvaviscus arboreus Cav. Var. penduliflorus, Malvaviscus longifolius
Common name: Pendulous Sleeping Hibiscus, Turk’s cap mallow
Local name: Dhadoonj, Laal phool(लाल फूल)
Dhadoonj is a shrub or small deciduous tree of Western Himalayas that can grow upto 5-10 metres tall. It can grow as wide as tall. Genus name of Dhadoonj comes from the Latin words ‘malva’, which means “mallow,” and ‘viscus’ meaning “sticky” thus it refers to the sticky sap produced by plants of this genus, while its common name Pendulous Sleeping Hibiscus is based on flowers which appears as hanging down and remain unopened unlike Hibiscus flowers. Dhadoonj is quite often confused with Malvaviscus arboreus var. arboreus , but can be easily differentiated by its spectacular, pendulous flowers. Dhadoonj iscommonly seen growing near habitation, in gardens, around temples, in waste land. along roadside, pathways and sometimes grown as field margins as hedges upto an altitude of 2000 metres. It usually prefers a well-drained, sandy soil in bright sunlight. Dhadoonj shows good flowering when grown in full sun, however it can also grow well in partial shade but with comparatively less flowers. Dhadoonj can be easily propagated through suckers, cuttings and seeds.
Dhadoonj growing along roadside
Dhadoonj flowers are considered an indispensable offering to Hindu deity Maan Durga. According to local people of Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, India if one flower of Dhadoonj is offered to Goddess Durga it is considered equal to one goat sacrifice (Bali jatra performed in Hindu temples). So, its plant are widely grown as a religious and ornamental plant in garden and around temples Dhadoonj is considered as an invasive species which can grows fast and has the potential to form dense thickets, this is the reason that Dhadoonj which once was a cultivated plant has escaped from cultivation and has naturalized well in wild habitats specially near to habitation.
Video showing habit & habitat of Dhadoonj
Dhadoonj offers multiple uses to the local community including both culinary and medicinal. A decoction of its flowers & leaves is locally used in the treatment of bronchitis, fevers and inflammation of the digestive tract
Among culinary uses flowers are taken in salad, herbal teas and made into sweet dish jam or gulkand. These can be an excellent addition to chillas (locally called Kachru), parantha etc.. Flower nectar & ripe fruits are usually taken by children during their play.
Dhadoonj bearing flowers
Dhadoonj is harvested from the wild or cultivated land for personal use as a food, medicine, fuel, fodder, offering to God and source of materials. It can be grown as a hedge to demarcate boundaries or as an ornamental in gardens, home yards and temples etc.
Laal phool Plant:
Erect shrubs, ca 2-3 m high
Branchlets are hairy (hairs recurved) to hairless. Stipules are threadlike, about 4 mm, falling off. Leaf-stalks are 1-2 cm, hairy.
Leaves 5-20 * 3-12 cm ovate to elliptic or lanceolate, usually rounded at base, long acuminate at apex, crenate-serrate; petioles 1-10cm long; stipules 3-5 mm long, linear.
A plant of Dhadoonj
Flowers are red , solitary, axillary, pendulous, tubular, opening slightly at the top; pedicels 2-6 cm long. Epicalyx segments 6 or more, 1-1.5 cm long, oblong, somewhat spathulate. Calyx slightly longer than epicalyx, fused to the middle above; lobes lanceolate. Corolla 5-7 cm long, pendulous. Staminal column exserted. Carpels 5; style branches 10, basally connate; stigmas capitate.
Fruits a fleshy schizocarp.
Dhadoonj is in flowering and fruiting in most part of the year. However, flowers are best harvested from early spring to autumn.
Flowers harvested for culinary uses
Dhadoonj can be included in food plate in following manner:
Flower Jam/ Gulkand:
Dhadoonj flower petals, 1/2kg; sugar, 200 g; fennel powder, 1 teaspoon; cardamom powder,1 teaspoon, honey or lemon juice 2-4 tablespoon.
Ingredients for making gulkand
Clean flowers to remove any pollinator and wash. Dry in shade. Mesh flower petal with sugar and transfer into a saucepan,
Petals meshed with sugar
Add to it fennel powder, cardamom powder and lemon juice. Keep stirring this mixture in slow flame till sugar completely melts and absorbs. Stop heating when preparation becomes viscous. Now let it cool down and put it into a ceramic jar. This gulkand can be used from six months to one year.
Gulkand ready to serve
Flowers petal, 4-6 g; water, 2 cup amount; sugar/jiggery/honey, 2 tablespoons; lemon juice, 2 tea spoons.
Dice petals and boil with water. Add sugar/jiggery/honey to it and simmer in low flame for 10 minutes. Strain into tea cups. Add lemon juice to each and serve hot.
Tea ready to serve
Kachru or sosaru:
Kachru is a traditional dish of Western Himalaya cooked as chilla with spices and basen or corn flour. It is served as an evening snack with tea/ chutney/tomato ketch-up.
For preparing a kachru, ingredients required are 250kg fresh Flowers, 300g besan (black grampowder) or corn flour. 1 cup amount fresh coriander leaves or other edible greens,1/2 tablespoon ajwain, 3-5 green chillies, ½ table spoon turmeric powder, 2-3 chopped onions and salt according to taste
Make a paste of petals, besan or corn flour and spices. Heat some oil on a flat heating pan. Put this paste over a pan and cook for 15 to 20 minutes then kachru will be ready to serve.
Seek professional advice before treating this plant medicinally.
Locally a decoction of the Dhadoonj flowers is used in the treatment of bronchitis, fevers, treat sore throats & inflammation of the digestive tract. leaves and flowers are also helpful to soothe irritated, itchy skin in slowing down balding and even helpful to promote hair growth for this paste of flowers and leaves applied on the head. An oil prepared by keeping flowers and leaves in mustard oil is also considered helpful. Dhadoonj is not only taken as a cardio tonic, it is also considered as a diuretic that helps to lower blood pressure.
Dhadoonj is used as a fuel, fodder, ornamental & hedge. Its flowers are used in worship. Its flowers & fruits are good insect and animal feed.