Thumba Flower – Leucas aspera

Thumba Flower is one another example of a native plant slowly departing from our households and villages. Like Krishnakireedam (pagoda flower), its white flowers were once unavoidable during Onam Festival. It is also widely popular as a taste enhancer, especially when added rice dishes.

However, although less in number, it is still found commonly in Kerala. Below you can see a few photos clicked from the premises of my house.

It belongs to the family Lamiaceae. In English, it is Common Leucas.

Flowers of Thumba - Thumbapoo
Flowers of Thumba / Thumbapoo

Apart from it, Karinthumba (Anisomeles malabarica) and Perunthumba (Leucas cephalotes) are also close relatives from the same family.

Appearance

Thumba grows to a height of 30 to 40 cm on average. It is an erect herb with hair-like projections all over the leaves and stem.

Leaves are lanceolate with pointed tips. They can be somewhere between 3 to 6 cm long and 1 to 1.5 cm broad. They appear hairier underneath compared to the upper side. The leaves have glucoside content.

The flower is white. It resembles the shape of a foot. It looks like a bilabiate.

The flowers grow from whorls which occur at the tip. They are nearly spherical.

Thumba -  Leucas aspera - medicinal herb in Kerala
In English Thumba is Common Leucas
Thumba -  Leucas aspera - medicinal herb in Kerala
Long leaves of Thumba are opposite in direction

Medicinal and Other Uses

As a native herb, Thumba has been popular in Ayurveda, folk-medicine, and Naturopathy. It has mild antifungal properties. It may be helpful for curing fever and constipation.

Apart from medicinal applications, Thumba has always been an ingredient in Indian culinary as a taste enhancer. Thumba Rice and Thumbapoo Payasam are famous in Kerala.

Thumba -  Leucas aspera - medicinal herb in Kerala
Medium high herb – up to 40 cm

Name in Different Languages

Sanskrit: Dronapushpi, Chitrapatrika
Hindi: Chotta halkusa
Malayalam: Thumba
Tamil: Thumbai, Thumbaichedi
Bengali: Daruna phoola
Gujarathi: Koobo
Telugu: Thummaykura

Family: Lamiaceae
Scientific name: Leucas aspera

Flowers of Leucas aspera - Thumba
Leucas aspera has white bilabiate flowers with five petals, growing from stem tips or leaf axils

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