English, Fake News

The tree seen in this viral pic is not Tulasi


An image of a tree is being widely shared claiming it as a tulasi tree grown in Karnataka’s Biligiri Rangana betta (BR hills). Sharing the same image, but ascribing it to different locations, other users claimed that it as the tallest tulasi tree. Let’s verify the claim made in this post.

Claim: Image of a tall tulasi tree.

Fact: According to the Britannica, tulasi is a shrub and shrubs grow usually upto a height of 300 cm. However, a tulasi plant grown by a Kerala man measured 340 cm and tallest Basil plant grown by a Greece resident measured 334 cm. But these tall plants do not have strong and woody stems like that of the viral tree image. Hence, the claim made in the post is FALSE

We ran a reverse image search and found that the same photo has been going viral on social media platforms since 2019 with similar claims. Most people claim that it is a tulsi tree from Karnataka’s BR hills. Others claim that the tree is in Mathura and Vrindavan.

We tried to identify the tree in the viral post using various image verification methods but couldn’t find the original source. So, we searched the internet to know more details about tulasi plant. According to Britannica, holy basil, (Ocimum tenuiflorum), also called tulasi, flowering plant of the mint family (Lamiaceae) grown for its aromatic leaves. The plant is small perennial shrub and grows up to 100 cm. It is considered holy by Hindus and prayed to.

Also, according to Britannica, shrub is any woody plant that has several stems, none dominant, and is usually less than 3 m (10 feet) tall. Taking cue from this we searched for the tallest tulasi or holy basil plants in India and around the world. According to Guinness book of world records website, as on 04 July 2012, Anastasia Grigoraki of Greece holds the world record for growing tallest Basil plant in the world. It measured 334 cm. Even though basil plant is different from tulasi, both belong to the same family Lamiaceae.

Also, according to the India book of records website, The record for growing the tallest tulasi plant in the pot using only organic fertilisers was set by P.S. Sai Vikas of Bengaluru. It measured 157.48 cm

On 16 August 2020, Malayali Newspaper Mathrubhumi also reported about a man growing a 340 cm tall tulasi plant in Ernakulam.

Also, one can see that the tree in the viral image has strong and hard wooden stem. But shrubs like tulasi, even the tallest, do not have strong wooden stems as seen from the pics. By comparing the images, it is evident that the tree shown in the viral post is not tulasi.

To sum it up, image of an unknown tree is being shared as that of the tallest Tulasi plant.


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