Ocimum Sanctum: Tulsi, Holy basil

Family: Lamiaceae
Common name: Tulsi, Holy basil

In India, if you have garden, it is most likely that you have a tulsi plant in it. If not, it’s time to get one. This small shrub, with multiple branches is considered to be essential. It is also considered holy by Hindus, and has a prominent place in the worship of Lord Vishnu. The leaves and flowers have a gentle, soothing fragrance making it a good source of essential oils, used in perfumes and fragrances.

There are 3 common varieties of tulsi in India; the ‘Ram Tulsi’ with light green, broad leaves; ‘Krishna Tulsi’ with purple-green, small leaves; and the wild variety of ‘Vana Tulsi’. Tulsi has been used in Ayurveda and other traditional medicines since time immemorial.

Tulsi plants grow to a height of 30-60 cms with slightly purple hairy stems. They flower very quickly, after a few months of growth, producing small purple or white-colored flowers that grow around an elongated raceme.

Tulsi is used as an anxiety and stress reliever. They are also used in lowering sugar and cholesterol levels, and also in treatment of bronchial and skin ailments. The plants also have insecticidal and antiseptic properties. Tulsi tea, made by pouring boiling water over tulsi leaves, and leaving to covered for some time; helps in strengthening the immune system.

Propagation is from stem cuttings or seeds. Usually, small plants grow around the parent plant, which can then be uprooted and planted elsewhere.

#herbs #gardenherbs

Photo Courtesy: love4gardening

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