South Indian Thyme
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South Indian Thyme
A Native Photo: S. Kasim
Common name: South Indian Thyme • Malayalam: Katu-tumba • Marathi: भूमितुलसी Bhumi-tulasi • Tamil: நீலத்துலஸீ Nilattulasi • Telugu: Bhoo-tulsi
Botanical name: Platostoma menthoides    Family: Lamiaceae (Mint family)
Synonyms: Elsholtzia ocimoides, Geniosporum prostratum, Thymus indicus Burm.f.

South Indian Thyme is a prostrate aromatic herb with many slender stems, 1-1.5 ft long, arising from a woody rootstock. Leaves are arranged in distant pairs, stalkless, or stalked, rather thick, very variable, obovate-lanceshaped or oblong or linear, base narrowed, sparingly toothed. They vary in size from 6 x 8 mm to 5 x 2 cm. Flowers are borne in slender, elongated spikes, in close or distant whorls. Bracts are ovate, pointed, curled back. Flowers are blue-purple, minute, stalked. Calyx is hairy, upper lip very variable in size, throat hairy. Flowers are 1-2 mm, hairy, with stamens protruding out. Fruiting calyx is 2 mm, almost bell-shaped, ribbed, tube not pitted, velvet-hairy. Nutlets are extremely minute, ellipsoid, smooth, naked. South Indian Thyme is found in Peninsular India and Sri Lanka. Flowering: August-December.
Medicinal uses: South Indian Thyme has been used traditionally in South India for common cold and as a febrifuge for children. In Sriharikota Island in Andhra Pradesh, leaf decoction is taken orally to get relief from fevers.

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

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