Musk Basil
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Musk Basil
ative Photo: S. Kasim
Common name: Musk Basil • Tamil: canakkirai, cittanantakkirai, cittanantam, karuppakkirai, lolekam • Telugu: kaachana, kaashana
Botanical name: Basilicum polystachyon    Family: Lamiaceae (Mint family)
Synonyms: Lehmannia ocymoidea, Ocimum polystachyon, Moschosma polystachyon

Musk Basil is an annual herb with stem up to 1.22 m tall, much branched, pointedly 4-angular, shallowly furrowed, the angles pustular with tubercles tipped by falling off bristles, the nodes annulate with very small hairs, otherwise hairless. Leaves are broadly ovate to oval-rhomboid, 2.6-7.5 x 2-4.3 cm, flat to wedge-shaped at base, tapering, irregularly rounded toothed, sawtoothed, thin, membranous, scaberulous above, hairless beneath. Leaf-stalks are 1.7-5 cm. Flowers are borne in linear racemes 5-6 cm long, verticils often 6-flowered. Floral leaves are inverted-spoon-shaped to oval-oblong, 1 mm long, aristate. Flower-stalks are 1 mm long, bristlyulous. Calyx is 1.75-2 mm long, longer in fruit; tube subswollen, 1.25 mm long, bristlyulous with gland tipped hairs at base without, somewhat inflated at base in front; upper lip broadly ovate, 0.75 x 1 mm, tapering; lower lip as long as upper, 4-toothed, the lateral ones triangular-ovate, the anterior ones triangular-lanceshaped, tapering, aristate. Flowers are 2.5-3 mm long, mauvish-pink; tube straight, bell-shaped, 1.75 mm long, hairless without, thinly velvet-hairy within; upper lip erect, 3-lobed, lobes rounded, central one 2-fid; lower lip slightly longer, oval-oblong, flat, bristlyulous ventrally. Stamens didymous, included; anterior filaments longer than posterior all hairless; anthers 2-celled, the cells continuous. Style hairless, shortly 2-fid at tip; branches oblong-oval. Nutlets broadly ellipsoid, 0.8 mm long, compressed, dark brown. Musk Basil is found in Tropical Africa and Indo-Malesia.

Identification credit: S. Kasim Photographed in Trichirapally, Tamil Nadu.

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