Unveiling the Mysteries of Tulsi: Discover the 4 Types Found in India

Did you know that there are four unique types of Tulsi found in India? Known as Holy Basil in English and Tulasi in Sanskrit, Tulsi holds immense cultural and medicinal significance in the Indian subcontinent. Let’s delve into the world of Tulsi and explore its different varieties.

The Diverse Family of Tulsi

Tulsi, belonging to the basil genus Ocimum, comprises approximately 60 species. Within this family, several types of Tulsi are grown in India. Most of these varieties are native to India, with their roots tracing back to the foothills of the Himalayas. Additionally, they can also be found in the Middle East.

The Tulsi plant is an annual herb that thrives in temperate climates, reaching a height of up to three feet. Its stem is square or quadrangular in shape, a characteristic feature of the Lamiaceae plant family. The leaves are opposite, simple, ovate, serrated, and petiolate. Furthermore, the plant produces beautiful flowers in a verticillaster inflorescence, showcasing shades of blue and purple.

The Four Types of Tulsi

According to ayurvedic texts, there are four primary types of Tulsi that hold their own unique properties. Let’s explore each of them:

Purple Leaf Tulsi

Purple Leaf Tulsi

Also known as ‘Krishna or Shyama Tulsi,’ the Purple Leaf Tulsi captivates with its peppery, crisp taste. It boasts purple-colored leaves and dark stems, making it stand out among its green counterparts. While it is grown in various regions of India, it may be relatively harder to find. Purple Leaf Tulsi is renowned for its ability to treat throat infections, respiratory ailments, nasal lesions, earaches, and skin diseases.

Green Leaf Tulsi

Green Leaf Tulsi

Known as ‘Rama Tulsi,’ Sri or Lakshmi Tulasi, Ocimum tenuiflorum, Ocimum sanctum, the Green Leaf Tulsi impresses with its cooling and mellower taste. This particular variety can be found not only in India’s southern states but also in Bengal, Bihar, Chatgaon, China, Brazil, and Eastern Nepal. The plant emits a strong aroma, and crushing its leaves between your palms releases an even more fragrant scent compared to other Tulsi varieties.

Wild Type ‘Vana’ Tulsi

Wild Type 'Vana' Tulsi

Vana Tulsi thrives in the Himalayas and the plains of India, growing naturally as a wild and cultivated plant. Its presence extends beyond Asia, with scattered growth in Africa as well. This type of Tulsi holds a special place in traditional medicine.

Kapoor Tulsi

Kapoor Tulsi

Kapoor Tulsi, also known as “Holy Basil,” is an annual plant known for its heavy flowering. It is the most commonly cultivated Tulsi type in the US, thanks to its ease of growth and adaptability. Bees are particularly drawn to this variety.

Cultivating Tulsi

Tulsi seeds germinate easily, making it a joy to cultivate. Here are a few key points to consider:

  • Sow Tulsi seeds during the spring season.
  • Provide regular watering, and the seeds will germinate within one to two weeks.
  • Tulsi thrives in rich soil and requires full sunlight.
  • It is primarily grown in temperate climates.

Medicinal Wonders of Tulsi

Tulsi is not only a cultural symbol but also a valuable medicinal plant. Its leaves are often brewed into herbal tea with numerous health benefits. Additionally, the oil extracted from Karpoora Tulsi is widely used in herbal toiletries, known for its insect-repellent and antibacterial properties.

Rama Tulsi, in particular, is an effective remedy for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Its leaves provide relief from cold, fever, bronchitis, and cough. Tulsi oil can even be used as an ear drop. Furthermore, Tulsi has been found to possess therapeutic properties against malaria, indigestion, headaches, hysteria, insomnia, and cholera. It is no wonder that millions of people consume fresh Tulsi leaves daily.

Beyond Medicine: Tulsi’s Versatility

Tulsi’s importance extends beyond its medicinal uses. People adorn themselves with Tulsi beads, believed to possess physical and medicinal properties. Tulsi wood, considered more powerful than any other gem, protects against negative influences. Handicraft jewelry made from Tulsi wood is also available.

A Sacred Presence

In Hindu culture, the Tulsi plant holds immense reverence. It symbolizes purity and is considered a holy plant in the Indian subcontinent. Named after Tulasi Devi, one of Lord Krishna’s eternal consorts, Tulsi is deeply ingrained in the hearts of the people.

In Indian households, a Tulsi plant is a mandatory presence in the courtyard, for a Hindu house is considered incomplete without it. The plant’s leaves are used in temple rituals and various occasions, such as marriages. Every day, women water the plant, light a diya (lamp) nearby, and offer prayers. The stems, leaves, seeds, and even the soil of the Tulsi plant are regarded as sacred.

As per ancient texts, Tulsi is glorified as the plant that helps bring people closer to the divine.

Tulsi’s rich diversity, cultural significance, and remarkable healing properties have made it a cherished part of Indian traditions for centuries. So, next time you encounter Tulsi, remember its fascinating story and the wonders it holds.