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Ocimum tenuiflorum (holy basil)

Holy basil is an important medicinal and religious plant closely related to the basil we use for cooking.
Holy basil plant

Ocimum tenuiflorum (Photo: GourangaUK)

Species information

Common name: 

holy basil

Conservation status: 

Least Concern

Habitat: 

Cultivated

Key Uses: 

Food, medicinal.

Known hazards: 

Applications to the skin can cause reactions in sensitive people.

Taxonomy

Subclass: 
Superorder: 
Asteranae
Order: 
Lamiales
Family: 
Lamiaceae
Genus: Ocimum

About this species

Ocimum tenuiflorum is closely related to culinary basil (Ocimum basilicum), but differs in being a short-lived perennial with smaller flowers. Commonly known as holy basil or tulsi and tulasi in South Asia, it is an important sacred plant in Hinduism and, as with many plant species used in Asia, the religious uses are often linked with the medicinal uses. Historically, holy basil was frequently grown in large vessels in the courtyards of Hindu forts and temples to cleanse the body. One of the plant’s synonyms, Ocimum sanctum, reflects this religious connection.

Genus: 
Ocimum

main info

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