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Ocimum tenuiflorum is closely related to culinary basil (Ocimum basilicum), but differs in being a short-lived perennial with smaller flowers. Commonly known as holy basil or tulsi and tulasi in South Asia, it is an important sacred plant in Hinduism and, as with many plant species used in Asia, the religious uses are often linked with the medicinal uses. Historically, holy basil was frequently grown in large vessels in the courtyards of Hindu forts and temples to cleanse the body. One of the plant's synonyms, Ocimum sanctum, reflects this religious connection.

[KBu]

Suddee, S., A. J. Paton, & Parnell, J. (2005). Taxonomic Revision of Tribe Ocimeae Dumort. (Lamiaceae) in Continental South East Asia III. Ociminae. Kew Bulletin, 60(1), 3-75. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/4110885

Distribution
Africa, SW Asia, Himalaya, India, Sri Lanka, China, Burma, Thailand, Indochina, Philippines, throughout Malaysia and Indonesia, often cultivated.
Ecology
In waste ground, open places; from sea level up to 1200 m.
Morphology General Habit
Short lived perennial herbs up to 1 m tall
Morphology Leaves
Leaves spreading, elliptic, oblong or ovate-oblong, 5 - 45 x 5 - 20 mm, apex obtuse or acute, base obtuse, margin coarsely serrate, glandular- punctate, glabrous or puberulous above, with adpressed hairs restricted to veins beneath; petiole 4 - 15 mm long, hirsute
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Stamens with posterior pair having a small tuft of hairs at base
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx 1 - 1.5 mm long at anthesis, 3 - 4 mm long in fruit; posterior lip rounded, sometimes with apiculate apex; anterior lip with 2 median lanceolate teeth curved upwards, longer than the 2 lateral teeth and the posterior lip; throat open; tube with patent hairs, with sessile or subsessile glands outside, glabrous or with very fine minute glandular hairs inside
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Corolla purplish-red, 2 - 3 mm long, lobes pubescent on back; posterior lip with the 2 obovate- oblong median lobes slightly longer than the 2 oblong lateral lobes; anterior lip obovate-oblong; tube glabrous on both sides
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Nutlets brown, ovoid-oblong, smooth, unchanged when wet.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescence lax or dense, verticils 5 - 10 mm apart, axis hirsute; bracts ovate 2 - 3 x 2 - 4 mm, apex acute, acuminate or cuspidate, base cuneate, sometimes subsessile, margin ciliate, abaxial with 3 conspicuous nerves, pubescent; pedicels 2.5 - 4 mm long in fruit, slender, pubescent, nearly as long as calyx
Morphology Stem
Stems round-quadrangular, hirsute, sometimes with sessile or subsessile glands
Note
In his original description of Ocimum hirsutum Bentham cited localities Courtallum and Palamcotta. The specimens in K-W, Wall. Cat. 2717 are mixed, with specimens from two different gatherings. Specimens Wall. Cat. 2717A are from Courtallum. The specimens from Palamcotta, Wall. Cat. 2717C appear to be Endostemon viscosus.
Phenology
Flowering and fruiting January - December.
Type
Cultivated in Uppsala, Linnean Herbarium 749.13 [lectotype LINN (microfiche!)].
Vernacular
Burmese: Lun, Pinsein-net, Kala- pinsein. Cambodian: Che Tak, Che Tak Me. Laos: Sa Phao Lom Deng, Sa Phao Lom Khao, Phak I Tou Thai. Thai: Komko, Komko Dong (Chiang Mai); Ka Phrao, Ka Phrao Khaao, Ka Phrao Daeng (Central); Ho-Kwo-Suu, Ho-Tuu-Pluu (Karen-Mae Hong Son); Im-Khim-Lam (Shan-Mae Hong Son). Vietnamese: E Rung, E Tia, E Do, Huongnhu Tia, Cay E Tia, Cay Co E Rung, E To.

[FTEA]

Lamiaceae (Labiatae), A.J. Paton, G. Bramley, O. Ryding, R.M. Polhill, Y.B. Harvey, M. Iwarsson, F. Willis, P.B. Phillipson, K. Balkwill, C.W. Lukhoba, D.F. Otieno, & R.M. Harley. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 2009

Type
Lectotype, see Paton, loc. cit. (1992): cultivated in Sweden, Uppsala, Linnean Herbarium 749.13 (LINN!, lecto.)
Morphology General Habit
Aromatic herb or woody herb to 1 m tall
Morphology Stem
Stems erect, branched, woody at base; indumentum of patent hairs
Morphology Leaves
Leaves petiolate; blade broadly elliptical, 1.5–3.3 × 1.1–2 cm, serrate, apex obtuse, base cuneate, with an indumentum of short, appressed hairs; petiole 7–15 mm long
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescence lax; pedicels in fruit 3–4 mm long, spreading
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Calyx 1(–3 in fruit) mm long; throat open and glabrous
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Corolla pink or white, 3 mm long; tube ± parallel-sided
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Posterior stamens ciliate, cilia concentrated on one side of the filament near base
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Nutlets brown, ovoid, ± 1 mm long, producing small amounts of mucilage when wet.
Ecology
Degraded bushland; 20 m
Conservation
Least concern (LC); widespread
Distribution
Range: Cultivated in Tanzania and probably throughout East Africa, native in India and Malaysia. Used for making tea Flora districts: K7

[KSP]

Kew Species Profiles

General Description
Holy basil is an important medicinal and religious plant closely related to the basil we use for cooking.

Ocimum tenuiflorum is closely related to culinary basil (Ocimum basilicum), but differs in being a short-lived perennial with smaller flowers. Commonly known as holy basil or tulsi and tulasi in South Asia, it is an important sacred plant in Hinduism and, as with many plant species used in Asia, the religious uses are often linked with the medicinal uses. Historically, holy basil was frequently grown in large vessels in the courtyards of Hindu forts and temples to cleanse the body. One of the plant's synonyms, Ocimum sanctum, reflects this religious connection.

Species Profile
Geography and distribution

Native to tropical and subtropical Asia, and cultivated and naturalised in other tropical areas.

Description

Holy basil is an aromatic, perennial herb up to 1 m tall, sometimes purplish in colour. The leaves are elliptic (narrow oval) in shape. The fruits have four small brown nutlets, which, unlike basil, do not produce a lot of mucilage when wet.

Uses

Regarded as sacred in Hinduism, Ocimum tenuiflorum has many traditional medicinal uses. A mixture of leaves and seeds, with black pepper ( Piper nigrum ) is given to pregnant women suffering from malaria. Fresh flowers are used to treat coughs and colds. The plant has shown promise in clinical trials in alleviating hepatic dysfunction, and is an ingredient of pills and ointment to cure eczema. The essential oil from some populations of holy basil contains high levels of eugenol. In traditional Thai medicine, the leaf or whole plant is used to alleviate nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and flatulence. Alcohol extracts from the plant heal peptic ulcers.

The leaf extract is effective in checking the spread of the fungal pathogens Pyricularia oryzae and Rhizoctonia solani , which cause blast disease and sheath blight disease of rice. Antibacterial activity and deterrent against the larvae of root knot nematode ( Meloidogyne incognita ) have been reported, and the oil is a mosquito repellent.

Ocimum tenuiflorum is used as a major flavouring ingredient in Thai cuisine. Because it is regarded as sacred in Hinduism, it is used to make rosaries - the woody stems are used to make the beads.

Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage

Kew's Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plant life world wide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in our seed bank vault.

Number of seed collections stored in the Millennium Seed Bank:  One

Germination testing: Successful

Cultivation

A native of South Asia, it can be grown in pots in the UK, but is not frost-hardy.

Ecology
Cultivated
Conservation
Least Concern
Hazards

Applications to the skin can cause reactions in sensitive people.

[CPLC]

Bernal, R., Gradstein, S.R. & Celis, M. (eds.). 2015. Catálogo de plantas y líquenes de Colombia. Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá. http://catalogoplantasdecolombia.unal.edu.co

Distribution
Naturalizada y adventicia en Colombia; Alt. 0 - 1500 m.; Islas Caribeñas, Llanura del Caribe, Pacífico, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Valle del Cauca, Valle del Magdalena.
Morphology General Habit
Hierba, subarbusto
Conservation
No Evaluada

[KBu]
Use
This species is used as medicine to cure asthma in Cambodia (Geoffray 369: P) and to cure coughs in Vietnam (Squire 350: BM, E, P). In Thailand, the dried and crushed leaves are used to prevent pain or to cure stomach problems (Brun & Schumacher 85: C).

[KSP]
Use
Food, medicinal.

Native to:

Andaman Is., Assam, Bangladesh, Bismarck Archipelago, Borneo, Cambodia, Caroline Is., China South-Central, China Southeast, East Himalaya, Hainan, India, Jawa, Laos, Lesser Sunda Is., Malaya, Maluku, Marianas, Marshall Is., Myanmar, Nepal, New Guinea, Nicobar Is., Pakistan, Philippines, Queensland, Solomon Is., South China Sea, Sri Lanka, Sulawesi, Sumatera, Taiwan, Thailand, Vanuatu, Vietnam, West Himalaya

Introduced into:

Bahamas, Cayman Is., Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Fiji, Kenya, Line Is., Malawi, Marquesas, Niue, Samoa, Society Is., Southwest Caribbean, Tokelau-Manihiki, Trinidad-Tobago, Venezuela, Windward Is., Zambia

English
Holy basil

Ocimum tenuiflorum L. appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
Nov 27, 2015 Rafidah, A.R. et al. [FRI64361], Malaysia K000734908
Jan 1, 2012 Cheng, S.K. et al. [CL1339], Cambodia K000735617
Jan 1, 2011 Zainal Arifin [596] K000735044
Jan 1, 2011 David [CL655], Cambodia K000735325
Jan 1, 2011 Cheng [CL1346], Cambodia K000735327
Jan 1, 2011 David [CL814], Cambodia K000735328
May 1, 2000 Matamin Rumutom [337], Malaysia K000897273
Jan 1, 1999 Bloembergen, S. [3224], Indonesia K000897264
Jan 1, 1999 Powell, D.A. [XI1351], Australia K000897252
Jan 1, 1999 Powell, D.A. [XI1351], Australia K000897253
Jul 1, 1997 Tadong, L. [80], Malaysia K000897278
Jul 1, 1997 Andau, D. [19], Malaysia K000897275
Jul 1, 1997 Tadong, D. [277], Malaysia K000897277
Jul 1, 1997 Tadong, D. [137], Malaysia K000897279
Jul 1, 1997 Tadong, D. [570], Malaysia K000897276
Jan 1, 1994 Luke, W.R.Q. [3840], Kenya K000434797
Aug 24, 1989 Mamit, J.D. [34564], Malaysia K000897270
Nov 18, 1988 Harini [075], Indonesia K000897291
Aet [525], Indonesia K000897215
Wiakabu, J. [LAE73562], Papua New Guinea K000897211
s.coll. [s.n.], Indonesia K000897290
Teruya, E. [1658], Indonesia K000897287
Enoh, M. [382], Indonesia K000897271
Ambri [1241], Indonesia K000897265
Buwalda, P. [4976], Indonesia K000897261
s.coll. [3474], Philippines K000897235
Reynoso, E. [1463], Philippines K000897229
Cuming, H. [2433], Indonesia K000897216
Fraser, M. [254], Malaysia K000897284
Keith, H.G. [7394], Malaysia K000897285
Ambri [1240], Indonesia K000897266
Loher, A. [4220], Philippines K000897234
Vidal, S. [3480], Philippines K000897227
Lütjeharms, W.J. [4922], Indonesia K000897289
Daernedi, D. [690], Indonesia K000897250
Hellwig, F. [94], Papua New Guinea K000897212
Wallace, A.R. [s.n.], Indonesia K000897257
Buwalda, P. [4051], Indonesia K000897262
Conklin, H.C. [37857], Philippines K000897230
Gaerlan, F. [3080], Philippines K000897228
Burbidge, F.W. [s.n.], Philippines K000897241
Yii, P.C. [60625], Malaysia K000897269
Meyer, A.B. [s.n.], Indonesia K000897258
Kadir [A929], Malaysia K000897286
Moseley, H.N. [s.n.], Philippines K000897236
Wallich, N. [s.n.] K000911680 Unknown type material
Yii, P.C. [63290], Malaysia K000897268
Eyma, P.J. [1748], Indonesia K000897259
Gregory, V.B. [57], Philippines K000897231
Fraser, M. [223], Malaysia K000897272
Teruya, Z. [1763], Indonesia K000897263
Loher, A. [4222], Philippines K000897240
Loher, A. [4221], Philippines K000897237
Pleyte, D.R. [150], Indonesia K000897260
Goklin, T. [2552], Malaysia K000897282
Usteri, P.A. [2820], Philippines K000897233
Moseley, H.N. [s.n.], Indonesia K000897256
Keith, H.G. [1611], Malaysia K000897283
Jones, B.L. [472], Malaysia K000897274
Horsfield, T. [s.n.], Indonesia K000897288
Cuming, H. [1779], Philippines K000897238
Wight [s.n.], India K000911681
Creagh, C.M.G. [s.n.], Malaysia K000897280
Koorders, S.H. [26206], Indonesia K000897292
Haviland, G.D. [3051], Malaysia K000897281
Merrill, E.D. [400], Philippines K000897232
Yii, P.C. [62838], Malaysia K000897267
Branderhorst, B. [50], Indonesia K000897214
Taylor, P.M. [507], Indonesia K000897251
Koorders, S.H. [27453], Indonesia K000897293
Savinierre, E. de la [340], Indonesia K000897255
Achmad [305], Indonesia K000897294
Carr, C.E. [11605], Papua New Guinea K000897213
Meyer, A.B. [s.n.], Indonesia K000897254
s.coll. [Cat. no. 2717], India Ocimum hirsutum K001116922
s.coll. [Cat. no. 2717], India Ocimum hirsutum K001116925
s.coll. [Cat. no. 2717] Ocimum hirsutum K001116924
s.coll. [Cat. no. 2717], India Ocimum hirsutum K001116923 Unknown type material
s.coll. [Cat. no. 2717], India Ocimum hirsutum K001116921
Jan 1, 1964 Thomson, G. [68], Singapore Ocimum sanctum K000897338
India Ocimum sanctum 33715.000
s.coll. [Cat. no. 2716] Ocimum sanctum K001116910
s.coll. [Cat. no. 2716] Ocimum sanctum K001116916
s.coll. [Cat. no. 2716] Ocimum sanctum K001116911
Wallich, N. [Cat. no. 2716], Myanmar Ocimum sanctum K001116909
Yapp, R.H. [298], Malaysia Ocimum sanctum K000897339
s.coll. [Cat. no. 2716] Ocimum sanctum K001116919
Teo, L.E. [562], Malaysia Ocimum sanctum K000897341
s.coll. [Cat. no. 2716] Ocimum sanctum K001116913
s.coll. [Cat. no. 2716] Ocimum sanctum K001116920
s.coll. [Cat. no. 2716] Ocimum sanctum K001116914
s.coll. [Cat. no. 2716] Ocimum sanctum K001116915
Carrick, J. [1504], Malaysia Ocimum sanctum K000897340
s.coll. [Cat. no. 2716] Ocimum sanctum K001116918
s.coll. [Cat. no. 2716] Ocimum sanctum K001116917
s.coll. [Cat. no. 2716] Ocimum sanctum K001116912
Bally, P.R.O. [15966], Somalia Ocimum tomentosum 52044.000
Gilbert Ocimum tomentosum 60210.000

First published in Sp. Pl.: 597 (1753)

Accepted by

  • Acevedo-Rodríguez, P. & Strong, M.T. (2012). Catalogue of seed plants of the West Indies Smithsonian Contributions to Botany 98: 1-1192.
  • Baksh-Comeau, Y., Maharaj, S.S., Adams, C.D., Harris, S.A., Filer, D.L. & Hawthorne, W.D. (2016). An annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Trinidad and Tobago with analysis of vegetation types and botanical 'hotspots' Phytotaxa 250: 1-431.
  • Balkrishna, A. (2018). Flora of Morni Hills (Research & Possibilities): 1-581. Divya Yoga Mandir Trust.
  • Bernal, R., Gradstein, R.S. & Celis, M. (eds.) (2016). Catálogo de plantas y líquenes de Colombia 1-2: 1-3068. Libro impreso.
  • Bramley, G.L.C. (2019). Flora Malesiana 23: 1-444. Noordhoff-Kolff N.V., Djakarta.
  • Govaerts, R. (2003). World Checklist of Selected Plant Families Database in ACCESS: 1-216203. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Hokche, O., Berry, P.E. & Huber, O. (eds.) (2008). Nuevo Catálogo de la Flora Vascular de Venezuela: 1-859. Fundación Instituto Botánico de Venezuela.
  • Khanam, M. & Hassan, M.A. (2008). Lamiaceae Flora of Bangladesh 58: 1-161. Bangladesh National Herbarium, Dhaka.
  • Manikandan, R., Chandrasekar, K. & Srivastava, S.K. (2012). Life form analysis of the family Lamiaceae in Jammu & Kashmir, India Phytotaxonomy 12: 7-19.
  • National Parks Board Singapore (2006). Vascular Plant Life Checklist Pulau Ubin www.nparks.gov.sg/nparks_cms/cms/cmsmgr/data/6/PlantChkList.xls.
  • Paton, A.J., Bramley, G., Ryding, O., Polhill, R., Harvey, Y., Iwarsson, M., Willis, F., Phillipson, P., Balkwill, K., Lukhoba, C., Otiend, D & Harley (2009). Lamiaceae (Labiatae) Flora of Tropical East Africa: 1-430.
  • Paton, A.J., Bramley, G., Ryding, O., Polhill, R.M., Harvey, Y.B., Iwarsson, M., Otieno, D., Balkwill, K., Phillipson, P.B., Harley, R.M. & Willis, F. (2013). Flora Zambesiaca 8(8): 1-346. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Smith, A.C. (1991). Flora Vitiensis Nova. A new flora for Fiji (Spermatophytes only) 5: 1-626. Pacific Tropical Botanical Garden, Lawai.
  • Suddee, S., Paton, A.J. & Parnell, J.A.N. (2005). Taxonomic Revision of the tribe Ocimeae Dumort (Lamiaceae) in continental South East Asia III. Ociminae Kew Bulletin 60: 3-75.
  • Sykes, W.R. (2016). Flora of the Cook Islands: 1-973. National Tropical Botanical Garden, Hawaii.
  • Welsh, S.L. (1998). Flora Societensis: 1-420. E.P.S. Inc. Utah.

Literature

Kew Species Profiles

  • Mabberley, D.J. (2008). Mabberley’s Plant-Book: A Portable Dictionary of Plants, their Classification and Uses, 3rd Ed. Cambridge University Press.
  • National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (CSIR) (2003). The wealth of India: a dictionary of Indian raw materials and industrial products. First Supplement Series (Raw Materials), Vol. 4: J-Q. CSIR, New Delhi.
  • Promjit Saralamp, Wongsatit Chuakul, Rungravi Temsiririrkkul & Clayton, T. (1996). Medicinal Plants in Thailand Vol. 1. Dept. of Pharmaceutical Botany, Mahidol University, Bangkok.

Kew Backbone Distributions

  • (2020). file:///C:/Users/rg02kg/Downloads/7790-19423-1-PB.pdf epublication.
  • Acevedo-Rodríguez, P. & Strong, M.T. (2012). Catalogue of seed plants of the West Indies Smithsonian Contributions to Botany 98: 1-1192.
  • Baksh-Comeau, Y., Maharaj, S.S., Adams, C.D., Harris, S.A., Filer, D.L. & Hawthorne, W.D. (2016). An annotated checklist of the vascular plants of Trinidad and Tobago with analysis of vegetation types and botanical 'hotspots' Phytotaxa 250: 1-431.
  • Bernal, R., Gradstein, R.S. & Celis, M. (eds.) (2016). Catálogo de plantas y líquenes de Colombia 1-2: 1-3068. Libro impreso.
  • Fosberg, F.R., Sachet, M.-H., Oliver, R. (1979). A geographical checklist of the Micronesian Dicotyledonae Micronesica; Journal of the College of Guam 15: 41-295.
  • Gonzalez, F., Nelson Diaz, J. & Lowry, P. (1995). Flora Illustrada de San Andrés y Providencia: 1-281. Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Colombia.
  • Hokche, O., Berry, P.E. & Huber, O. (eds.) (2008). Nuevo Catálogo de la Flora Vascular de Venezuela: 1-859. Fundación Instituto Botánico de Venezuela.
  • Khanam, M. & Hassan, M.A. (2008). Lamiaceae Flora of Bangladesh 58: 1-161. Bangladesh National Herbarium, Dhaka.
  • Lorence, D.H. & Wagnwe, W.L. (2020). Flora of the Marquesas Islands 2: 413-1135. National Tropical Botanic Garden, Smithsonian, DRPF.
  • Manikandan, R., Chandrasekar, K. & Srivastava, S.K. (2012). Life form analysis of the family Lamiaceae in Jammu & Kashmir, India Phytotaxonomy 12: 7-19.
  • Paton, A.J., Bramley, G., Ryding, O., Polhill, R., Harvey, Y., Iwarsson, M., Willis, F., Phillipson, P., Balkwill, K., Lukhoba, C., Otiend, D & Harley (2009). Lamiaceae (Labiatae) Flora of Tropical East Africa: 1-430.
  • Paton, A.J., Bramley, G., Ryding, O., Polhill, R.M., Harvey, Y.B., Iwarsson, M., Otieno, D., Balkwill, K., Phillipson, P.B., Harley, R.M. & Willis, F. (2013). Flora Zambesiaca 8(8): 1-346. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Sykes, W.R. (1970). Contributions to the flora of Niue Bulletin, New Zealand Department of Scientific and Industrial Research 200: 1-321.
  • Sykes, W.R. (2016). Flora of the Cook Islands: 1-973. National Tropical Botanical Garden, Hawaii.
  • Thaman, R.R. & Tye, A. (2015). Flora of Kiritimari (Christmass) atoll, Northern Line islands, Republic of Kiribati Atoll Research Bulletin 608: 1-73.
  • Welsh, S.L. (1998). Flora Societensis: 1-420. E.P.S. Inc. Utah.

Flora of Tropical East Africa

  • Bull. Br. Mus. Nat. Hist. (Bot.)19: 113 (1989)
  • K.B. 47: 432 (1992)
  • K.B. 47: 432 (1992).
  • Sp. Pl.: 597 (1753)

Art and Illustrations in Digifolia
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew

Catálogo de Plantas y Líquenes de Colombia
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Colombian resources for Plants made Accessible
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Flora of Tropical East Africa
Flora of Tropical East Africa
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Herbarium Catalogue Specimens
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Kew Backbone Distributions
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Kew Bulletin
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Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Kew Science Photographs
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Kew Species Profiles
Kew Species Profiles
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