Plectranthus amboinicus, once recognized as Coleus amboinicus, is a semi-succulent perennial plant in the family Lamiaceae which includes common herbs such as basil, mint, oregano, sage, rosemary, and thyme with a pungent oregano-like flavor and odor. The plant is native to Southern and Eastern Africa, from South Africa (KwaZulu-Natal) and Swaziland to Angola and Mozambique and north to Kenya and Tanzania. It is widely cultivated and naturalized elsewhere in the tropics where it is used as a traditional medicine, spice, and ornamental plant. Few of the popular common names of Indian Borage includes Cuban oregano, Country borage, French thyme, Indian borage, Indian mint, Mexican mint, Soup mint, Spanish thyme, Thick leaf thyme, broad leaf thyme, Mexican Mint, Coleus amboinicus, poor man pork or broad leaf thyme, queen of herbs, three-in-one herb, allherb, mother of herbs and orielle.
The name Plectranthus derives from the Greek words “plectron”, meaning spur, and “Anthos”, meaning flower, in reference to the spur-shaped flowers of some members of the genus. Due to lack of precise morphological features to differentiate species within the genus Plectranthus and its closely associated genera, numerous taxonomic problems with the naming of species have resulted in misplacement of species in some closely linked genera such as Coleus, Solenostemon and Englerastrum. The species epithet “amboinicus” is derived from Ambon, an island in the East Indies where Rumphius, a well-known botanist, is from. It is not true oregano in the family, Origanum, but has a scent characteristic of the true oreganos.