Botany

What are lipped plants?

Plants are classified in many ways, one of the most popular being their family. Of all those that exist, the Lamiaceae (better known as labiates) are one of the most extensive, comprising about 245 genera and around 7,900 species distributed throughout the world, especially in temperate regions.

Faced with such a variety, it is easy to find herbs, whether perennial or annual, succulents, shrubs, vines, and even trees, such as Tectona grandis, which can reach up to 30 meters in height. But what are its characteristics? Coming up next, we tell you.

Origin and characteristics

The labiates are distributed throughout all regions of the Earth, except the polar regions and the extreme deserts (Sahara, Gobi Desert). There are some species in the Mediterranean, as well as in Southwest Asia and, to a limited extent, in tropical forests as well.

They are characterized by having normally opposite leaves, simple, and whole or serrated. The inflorescences are grouped in cymes with seated or pedicellate, hermaphroditic or sometimes female flowers.

Best known genres

  • Clerodendron: they are shrubs, lianas or trees up to 12 meters high native to tropical Africa, southern Asia, tropical America and northern Australasia.
  • Nepeta: native to Europe, Asia and Africa. They are perennials very similar to mint that reach a height of about 50cm.
  • Salvia: they are annual, biennial or perennial plants native to Central America, South America, Central and Eastern Asia and the Mediterranean basin. The species Salvia officinalis and Salvia greggii are known.

What uses do they have?

Besides being able to be used as ornamental plants, many species have other uses:

  • Medicinal: there are many that have antiseptic and healing properties, such as rosemary alcohol.
  • Food:
    • Protein source: like the seeds of Salvia hispanica, or chia.
    • Substitute of the potato: like the species Plectranthus rotundifolius, called plant of the money or potato of the Hausas. Its tubers are rich in sugars and proteins.
    • Condiments and spices: because the labiates are usually aromatic, there are many that are used to season food, such as Rosmarinus officinalis ( rosemary ), Ocimum basilicum ( basil ), Mentha (mint), Origanum vulgare ( oregano ), etc..

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