Tulsi / Holy Basil

One of the plants I successfully germinated from what I was gifted at the first Standing Rock Seed Exchange was this Tulsi (Holy Basil) plant. While this plant is indigenous to India, the seeds that I got from Linda Black Elk had been grown for some generations (I don’t know exactly how long) in Vermont, and they do well in our North Dakota climate.

Its scientific name is Ocimum tenuiflorum, and it is a member of the Basil family. It is also spelled as “Tulasi” sometimes.

Tulsi is an adaptogenic plant, meaning it will help to balance the body. I usually use it to make tea. I’ve seen descriptions of wide-ranging uses of this plant, from cold symptom relief, to pain management, to anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties.
(I’m sorry for the out-of-focus photo; I will get a better one when I can. If you’re wondering about the seedlings sprouting in the background that my phone focused on instead, those are highly invasive Siberian Elm seeds.)

I believe that the Tulsi I have is Ram Tulsi, the most common type. There are two other types, a Krishna Tulsi (less common, with purple leaves) and a Vana Tulsi (a wild variety). I have heard that all three types of Tulsi have different properties and applications. A Hindu friend told me that this plant is used in her religious practices, is grown beside Hindu temples, as well as being consumed internally in India.

I’ve now grown several generations of these plants on Standing Rock. They do quite well in our climate, even when I’ve interrupted their growing season by transplanting or pruning them. They produce sweet purple flowers and eventually, at the end of the season, they will give you countless seeds.

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