Ban Tulsi
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Ban Tulsi
aturalized Photo: Thingnam Girija
Common name: Ban tulsi • Bengali: बन तुलसी • Hindi: Kala Bhangra • Tamil: ரயில் பூண்டு Reilpoondu • Kannada: ಅಲ್ಪಭೇದಿ ಸೊಪ್ಪು Alpa bedhi soppu • Nepali: मिर्चैया झार Mirchaiya Jhaar
Botanical name: Croton bonplandianus      Family: Euphorbiaceae (castor family)

Normally Crotons are popular foliage plants. This is a wild species of croton. Due to the resemblance of the leaves and flower cymes to that of Tulsi, this plant is often called Ban Tulsi (jungle tulsi) It is a small annual herb, growing up to 1-2 ft tall. Alternately arranged leaves, 3-5 cm long, are lance-shaped, with a toothed margin. Small white flowers are borne in 3-8 cm long racemes at the end of branches. Flowers have 5 sepals and 5 petals and numerous long stamens protruding out. Fruit is a 5 mm oblong capsule, with a warty surface. Ban tulshi is grown abundantly in the rural areas of Malda, West Bengal, and is used as both a fuel and a detergent. First the stems and branches of ban tulshi are used as fuel. Then the ash is collected and kept in a bottle for five or six days. The ash is put in warm water and used as a detergent for cleaning cotton garments. Ban Tulsi is native to S. Bolivia to Uruguay, now widespread in the Indian subcontinent. Flowering: September-November.

Identification credit: Mahadeswara Swamy Photographed in Delhi.

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