Botanical name: Coleus amboinicus Family: Lamiaceae (Mint family)
Synonyms: Plectranthus amboinicus, Coleus aromaticus, Plectranthus aromaticus
Cuban Oregano is a sprawling and somewhat succulent herb, growing to 1 m tall. The plant is sometimes prostrate at base, with the branchlets rising up, densely hairy. Leaves have stalks 1-4.5 cm long, densely velvety, like most mint family plants. Leaf blade is fleshy, broadly ovate to circular, rhombic, or kidney-shaped, 4-10 cm long, 3-9 cm broad, coarsely toothed at margin or entire toward base. Flowers are borne in 10-20-flowered, densely velvety spikes, 10-20 cm long. Flower stalks are slender, up to 5 mm long. Sepal cup is bell-shaped, 1.5-4 mm long. Flowers are pale blue or mauve to pink, 8-12 mm long - the upper lip is up to 4.5 x 3 mm, erect, the lower lip up to 5-6 x 4 mm, concave. Filaments of stamens are mostly fused into a tube around style. The origin of Cuban Oregano is unknown - it is widely cultivated world-wide. The leaves are strongly flavoured and make an excellent addition to stuffings for meat and poultry. Finely chopped, they can also be used to flavour meat dishes, especially beef, lamb and game.
Medicinal uses: The leaves have also had many traditional medicinal uses, especially for the treatment of coughs, sore throats and nasal congestion, but also for a range of other problems such as infections, rheumatism and flatulence. In Indonesia Cuban Oregano is a traditional food used in soup to stimulate lactation for the month or so following childbirth.
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