It is known as Holy Basil in English and Tulasi in Sanskrit. Other names used for the Tulsi are Manjari, Krishna Tulsi, Trittavu, Tulshi, and Tulsi.
Tulsi is one of roughly 60 species of the genus Ocimum, the basil genus. Within the Tulsi family, there are several kinds grown in India. Most varieties are native to India, including the foothills of the Himalayas; they are also found throughout the Middle East.
Tulsi is grown as an annual herb in temperate climates that may grow to a height of three feet. The root grows as a branched taproot.
The stem has a square or quadrangular shape characteristic to Lamiaceae plants and is branched, green to red with a fine layer of pubescence. The leaves are opposite, simple, ovate, serrate and petiolate.
The flowers grow in a verticillaster inflorescence and are complete with a blue to purple color.
There are four types of tulsi mentioned in ayurvedic texts
Although all three types of Tulsi have their uses in Ayurveda, the Rama and Krishna are the most widely used.
Also known as 'Krishna or Shyama Tulsi', the Purple leaf tulsi is famous for its peppery, crisp taste. It comprises purple colored leaves and dark stems. Although it is grown in many regions in India, it is relatively more difficult to find than the green varietals.
Purple leaf Tulsi is known to be beneficial to treat throat infections, respiratory system, nasal lesions, earache and skin diseases.
Also known as 'Rama Tulsi', Sri or Lakshmi Tulasi, Ocimum tenuiflorum, Ocimum sanctum, the Green Leaf Tulsi is known for its cooling, mellower taste. his variety of Tulsi is found in China, Brazil, Eastern Nepal, as well as in Bengal, Bihar, Chatgaon and the southern states of India.
All the parts of the plant emit a strong aroma. Ram Tulsi has a characteristic fragrance. Crushing its leaves between the palms releases a stronger fragrance than other varieties of Tulsi.
Vana Tulsi is found in the Himalayas as well as the plains of India, where it grows as a naturalized plant. Vana Tulsi is also cultivated and grows wild throughout Asia and Africa.
Kapoor is the short, annual, heavily flowered plant that was originally introduced to the US as "Holy Basil" and it is the most common type found in cultivation here in the US. It is the easiest to grow--give standard basil culture. The big attractor of bees.
Tulsi has got a great medicinal value. For over the centuries Tulsi (the queen of herbs) has been known for its remarkable healing properties.
Many people wear Tulsi beads, which is said to have certain physical and medicinal properties. Its wood is considered as more powerful than any other gem that helps in protecting one from the negative influences. One can also buy several handicraft jewelry items made of Tulsi wood.
Cultural Importance :
Tulsi is the sacred plant dearer to the Lord Vishnu. Tulsi symbolizes purity. It is considered as the holy plant in the Indian Subcontinent. Tulsi got its name from Tulasi Devi, who was one of Lord Krishna's eternal consorts.
In India, people grow Tulsi as a religious plant and worship it. Its leaves are used in temples for worship purposes and also on several occasions such as marriage.
A Hindu house is considered incomplete without the Tulsi plant in the courtyard. Tulsi is believed to promote longevity and life long happiness. Hindus perform special Tulsi puja in the Kartik month which starts after Sharad Poornima.
It is the time of the Tulsi vivah (marriage). On this day Tulsi is decorated and colored as a bride.
Even today people in India maintain a potted Tulsi plant. The women water the plant, light up the diya near it and worship it daily. The stems, leaves, seeds and even the soil is considered as holy.
According to the ancient texts Tulsi is glorified as the one who helps in bringing people closer to the divine.
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