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Malabar Nut | A Beautiful Evergreen Bush That Doubles as Herbal Medicine


Malabar Nut | A Beautiful Evergreen Bush That Doubles as Herbal Medicine

By ShineB – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Justicia Adhatoda, also known as Malabar Nut or Vasaka Nut is an ornamental and medicinal shrub originating in Pakistan, India and Southeast Asia. It is a fast-growing evergreen that is hardy to USDA Zones 8-10.  Malabar Nut can reach heights and widths of 7 to 16 feet depending on growing conditions. The leaves are green, long and oval shaped. The flowers, which bloom seasonally after 2 to 3 years, are white with lavender/purple linings.  After the blooming period, the shrub produces midsized seed pods which once mature, expels the seeds at a distance. A mild warning, the plant produces a dreadful odor if touched.

In its native habitat, Malabar Nut is used as a living hedge to deter livestock from crops and gardens (the stems and leaves are poisonous to live stock so they avoid it). Once harvested, the leaves are used to help fertilize certain crops like tea, tobacco and rice in the southern hemisphere of India. The leaves are also used in infusions to deter pests such as mosquitos, flies and termites.

Malabar Nut prefers well-draining, loamy, sandy soil but can handle mild coastal conditions (salty soil). They benefit from full sun or part shade (light shading the afternoon will encourage beautiful foliage displays) and are drought tolerate. The plants need only moderate watering but can easily become naturalized if not monitored. Malabar Nut can be grown readily from seeds or cuttings. This showy plant can also be grown in containers. They will need to be brought indoors at the first hint of cooler weather.

Because of its beauty and adaptability, Malabar Nut would bring favorable interest to any tropical and seaside landscapes or conservancy gardens.

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