Geniosporum tenuiflorum (L.) Merr.
Lumnitzera tenuiflora (L.) Spreng.
Moschosma tenuiflorum (L.) Heynh.
Ocimum anisodorum F.Muell.
Ocimum caryophyllinum F.Muell.
Ocimum hirsutum Benth.
Ocimum inodorum Burm.f.
Ocimum monachorum L.
Ocimum sanctum L.
Ocimum scutellarioides Willd. ex Benth.
Ocimum subserratum B.Heyne ex Hook.f.
Ocimum tomentosum Lam.
Ocimum villosum Roxb.
Plectranthus monachorum (L.) Spreng.
Common Name: Sacred Basil
Ocimum tenuiflorum is an aromatic, erect, much-branched perennial plant growing from 30 - 100cm tall. The stems often become woody, at least at the base, and persist[
One of the most sacred plants in India, where it has been cultivated for over three thousand years and is still widely grown around homes and temples for its protective influence[
]. It is also commonly cultivated in other tropical areas for its leaves and medicinal uses.
E. Asia - China, Indian subcontinent, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, New Guinea, northern Australia.
Naturalized in waste places or in settled areas and thickets[
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Ocimum tenuiflorum is a plant of the moist to wet, lowland tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 1,000 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 28°c, but can tolerate 15 - 35°c[
]. When dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about -1°c[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,000 - 3,000mm, but tolerates 700 - 7,600mm[
Prefers a moist but well-drained soil in a sunny position[
]. Prefers a rich, light, well-drained to dry soil and a position in full sun[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 6 - 7.5, tolerating 5 - 9[
]. Cool, humid, overcast weather causes the plants to succumb to grey mould[
All parts of the plant are sweetly scented[
The twigs can be harvested only one month after planting out the young plants, and thereafter at periods of every two weeks during the growing season[
The plant attains full bloom stage (maturity) 65 - 70 days after transplanting[
There are several named varieties[
Leaves - raw or cooked[
]. Sweetly spicy, with a sharp, pronounced clove scent and pungency[
]. Used in salads, they can also be cooked as a potherb or used as a flavouring in a variety of dishes[
A refreshing tea can be made from the leaves[
The mucilaginous seeds are made into a sweet, cooling beverage[
Sacred basil is a very important herb in the Ayurvedic tradition[
]. A pungently aromatic, warming, antiseptic herb; it induces perspiration; lowers fevers; relaxes spasms; eases pain; clears bacterial infections; strengthens the immune and nervous systems; reduces inflammations; and benefits the digestive system[
]. Research has shown that the herb has the ability to lower blood sugar levels[
The essential oils from the leaf have shown antibacterial and antifungal activity. They contain methylchaviol, eugenol and other volatile, commercial oils[
The plant is used internally in the treatment of feverish illnesses (especially in children), colds, influenza, sinusitis, headaches, rheumatism, arthritis, digestive disorders, including abdominal distension and cramps; low libido and negativity[
]. It has been found helpful in some types of diabetes[
The herb is used externally as an antiseptic to treat skin infections, spots etc[
]. The juice of the plants is used to treat insect bites and ringworm[
]. The juice is dropped into the ear to treat earaches[
The leaves can be harvested during the growing season and used fresh or dried for later use[
The seeds are used as a tonic[
The stems are cut into beads for rosaries[
The essential oil from the plant is used as an insect repellent[
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