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How I use herbs - Mother of Herbs?

I was given this herb at our monthly local produce share.  It had the label "tulsi?".  I didn't know what tulsi was at the time, but when I googled it I found that this herb was definitely not tulsi (AKA holy basil).  I was pretty keen to identify it, as I'd already sampled some of the leaf!  I started flicking through my herb books until I found a picture that looked similar in Isabel Shippard's brilliant and comprehensive "How can I use herbs in my daily life?".  It looks very much like Mother of Herbs (Coleus amboinicus - also Plectranthus amboinicus), however the text says that this herb can be easily confused with Dog Bane (Plectranthus caninus), but I think the leaves on my specimen are too serrated to be either of these.  Another herb book mentions Coleus forskohliii and further googling reveals that there are many similar looking plants in the Coleus/ Plectranthus genus, they are all related to mint and oregano (Lamiaceae family).

How to grow Mother of Herbs
All of the Coleus genus are succulent, they don't need much water.  They grow low to the ground and can be propagated from runners.  I will see how this one survives in our climate, so far we have had wet weather, so I hope it will be ok through a hot dry summer.  I am hoping also that this specimen will flower eventually and then I will be able to positively identify which coleus I have.




How to use Mother of Herbs
The Coleus genus has various medicinal properties:
  • C. forskohlii contains "forskolin", which has been found to reduce blood pressure, relax smooth muscle, stimulate hormone and digestive secretions, and reduce pressure in the eye.
  • C. amboinicus is used to reduce inflammation and for bronchitis and asthma
Both the leaves and root are used.  The roots can be pickled.  As I'm not exactly sure which species I have, I will be using it as an ornamental with a nice smell until I can positively identify what I have.

This is not the most educational edition of my herbs series, but I thought the story of trying to identify this particular herb was also of interest, and I will share the rest of the story when I learn more about it.

Do you recognise this herb?  Do you use it? 





How I use herbs - Mint, Peppermint and Spearmint

How I use herbs - Aloe Vera

How I use herbs - Basil

How I use herbs - Ginger, galangal and turmeric

How I use herbs - Marigold, calendula and winter taragon

How I use herbs - Lemon balm

How I use herbs - Soapwort

How I use herbs - Comfrey

How I use herbs - Nasturtium

How I use herbs - Parsley

How I use herbs - Borage

How I use herbs - Herb Robert

How I use herbs - Purslane

How I use herbs - Chickweed

How I use herbs - Neem oil

How I use herbs - Rue, tansy and wormwood

How I use herbs - Brahmi

How I use herbs - Yarrow

How I use herbs - Arrowroot

How I use herbs - Lucerne (afalfa)

How I use herbs - Lavender

How I use herbs - Rosemary and Thyme

How I use herbs - Oregano or Marjoram

How I use herbs - Sweet Violet

How I use herbs - Gotu Kola

How I use herbs - Lemongrass

How I use herbs - Coriander (or cilantro)

How I use herbs - Dill

Comments

  1. I don't think we have that herb, Liz. I know some plants look very similar. When I bought one herb from Isabel's farm...I think it was Gotu Kola...she said it was easy to get it mixed up with another plant that grows prolifically here and to be careful to use the correct plant.

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  2. i have mother of herbs, plain green one, the leaves are also very thick & slightly hairy with a very strong odour, mine looks nothing like dogbane either but as you have discovered there are a few species/genus floating around. great in times of drought, even survives up a tree lol
    i think i may have the variegated one somewhere too; will check out my garden tomorrow.
    thanx for sharing

    ReplyDelete
  3. Ha! I've grown coleus as an ornamental but never wondered if it had medicinal properties. This is a great post!

    Liz, would you be interested in joining in a group of homestead authors who are producing an ebook bundle of homesteading resources? There's more information at my blog. I'm sorry there isn't more notice but I just found out that they were looking for more authors. There are both author and affiliate commissions for participating.

    ReplyDelete

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