Home

Plants

Tree of Life

ID
  
 
Healthy Home Gardening
 
Sweet Basil
Lamiaceae
Ocimum basilicum


Thunder
Thunder
Type Categories Useful Parts

Herb



Lamiaceae Family

Ocimum Genus
Other Names for this Plant

Basil, St Joseph’s Wort


Location

Native to Tropical Old World: central Africa and Southeast Asia.Cultivated extensively in France, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, Morocco, and the United States (Arizona, California, New Mexico, NorthCarolina), Greece and Israel.

Physical Description
Basils are characterized by square, branching stems, opposite leaves, brown or black seeds (also called nutlets) and flower spikes, but flower color and the size, shape, and texture of the leaves vary by species. Leaf textures range from smooth and shiny to curled and hairy, and flowers are white to lavender/purple. Leaf color can also vary, from green to blue/purple, and plants can grow to from 1 to 10 feet in height, depending on the species.
Most people are familiar with sweet basil, Ocimum basilicum, the common culinary basil, but the world of basils offers a wide array of plants with a great diversity of flavors, scents, and uses. There are many species and cultivars of basil. Some of the more popular basils include sweet, specialty fragrant (cinnamon, lemon and Thai/anise), purple-leaved, bush, and miniature or dwarf.

Varieties can grow to a height of 2 1/2 feet and are about as wide. Foliage colors range from pale to deep green, vivid purple and even purple laced with goldish yellow foliage. Texture varies from silky and shiny to dull and crinkly. Flowers appear in summer as whorls on the ends of branches and are either white or lavender.




Compare Species
?

Lamiaceae
Lamiales
Lamiales
Tounge Order (Mints)
Euasterids I
Euasterids I
Real Stars Group One
Asteridae
Asteridae
Class of Stars (Daisies)
Core Eudicots
Core Eudicots
Main, Real, Two First-Leaves (Dicots)
Eudicots
Eudicots
Real, Two First-Leaves (Dicots)
Mesangiospermae
Mesangiospermae
Half Capsule Seed Division
Magnoliophyta
Magnoliophyta
Magnolia Division
Spermatophytes
Spermatophytes
Seed Plants
Euphyllophytina
Real Land Plants
Polysporangiates
Multiple Spore Sub-Kingdom
Stomatophytes
Stomatophytes
Air Pores Sub-Kingdom
Embryophytes
Embryophytes
Multicellular Land Plants
Streptobionta
Streptobionta
Multicellular Plants
Plantae
Plantae
Plants
Eukaryota
Eukaryota
Cells with a Nucleus


General Information

Medicinal Uses: Basil has been occasionally used for mild nervous disorders and for the alleviation of wandering rheumatic pains- the dried leaves, in the form of snuff, are said to be a cure for nervous headaches.

An infusion of the green herb in boiling water is good for all obstructions of the internal organs, arrests vomiting, and allays nausea.

The seeds have been reckoned efficacious against the poison of serpents, both taken internally and laid upon the wound. They are also said to cure warts.

Food Uses: In common with other labiates, Basil, both the wild and the sweet, furnishes an aromatic, volatile, camphoraceous oil, and on this account is much employed in France for flavoring soups, especially turtle soup. They also use it in ragoûts and sauces. The leafy tops are a great improvement to salads and cups.

Cultivated as a culinary herb, condiment or spice; source of essential oil for use in foods, flavors, and fragrances; garden ornamental. The green aromatic leaves are used fresh and dried as flavorings or spices in sauces, stews, salad dressings, vegetables, poultry, vinegar, confectionery products, and the liqueur chartreuse.

Although it is now comparatively little used in England for culinary purposes, this herb was one of our favorite pot-herbs in older days, and gave the distinctive flavor that once made Fetter Lane sausages famous

Basil's pervading, clove-like aroma makes it such an ideal complement to tomatoes that it is often referred to as 'the tomato herb'. It is interesting to note how flavors across the herb and spice spectrum can have similar attributes, and it is often these degrees of commonality that give us an indication of the breadth of uses they can encompass. Cloves also happen to go well with tomatoes and there are many commercially made tomato sauces and canned foods such as Scandinavian herrings with tomato, that contain either cloves or the very clove-tasting spice, allspice.

Basil also complements other vegetables such as eggplant, zucchini, squash, and spinach. When added within the last half an hour of cooking, basil enhances the flavor of vegetable and legume (split peas, lentil) soups. Most salads, especially those with tomato, benefit greatly from the addition of fresh basil.

Basil goes well with poultry when used in stuffing, is included in soups and stews, and added to sauces and gravies. Fish brushed with olive oil, dusted with freshly ground black pepper, wrapped in foil, with a few basil leaves and barbecued, is a simple and effective way to enjoy this versatile herb. Basil is used in pâtés and terrines, where its volatile notes will help counteract the richness of liver and game. A tasty vinegar to have on hand for making salad dressings is made by placing a dozen or more fresh, washed basil leaves in a bottle of white wine vinegar and leaving it for a few weeks

Cultivation: Prefers a rich light well drained to dry soil. Requires a sunny sheltered position if grown outdoors. Tolerates a pH in the range 5 to 8. Sweet basil is commonly grown as an aromatic culinary and medicinal herb in warm temperate and tropical climates. There are a number of different constituents that make up the essential oil in basil, and the proportions of these vary considerably between plants growing in different regions of the world. From this variety many named varieties with differing flavor characteristics have been developed. Basil is a perennial plant in the tropics, but it is frost tender and needs to be grown as a half-hardy annual in temperate zones

Propagation: Seed - sow mid to late spring in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. Germination is usually free and quick, prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. If growing basil outdoors, plant out after the last expected frosts.

Companion Planting: Plant basil peppers to enhance their growth. Sweet basil is a good companion plant for tomatoes but it grows badly with rue and sage. When grown near raspberries it can retard their fruiting.

It is a very good companion plant to grow in the house or greenhouse, its aromatic foliage helping to reduce problems caused by insect pests

Other Notes: In Persia and Malaysia Basil is planted on graves, and in Egypt women scatter the flowers on the resting-places of those belonging to them.

These observances are entirely at variance with the idea prevailing among the ancient Greeks that it represented hate and misfortune. They painted poverty as a ragged woman with a Basil at her side, and thought the plant would not grow unless railing and abuse were poured forth at the time of sowing. The Romans, in like manner, believed that the more it was abused, the better it would prosper.

But it was said to cause sympathy between human beings and a tradition in Moldavia still exists that a youth will love any maiden from whose hand he accepts a sprig of this plant. In Crete it symbolizes 'love washed with tears,' and in some parts of Italy it is a love-token.

Basil supposedly derives its name from the terrifying basilisk -- a half-lizard, half-dragon creature with a fatal piercing stare according to Greek mythology. The medicinal application of a basil leaf was considered to be a magical cure against the look, breath or even the bite of the basilisk. Although this story moved into the realm of fable, basil was still considered a medicinal cure for venomous bites.

In keeping with its hostile status, later Greeks and Romans believed the most potent basil could only be grown if one sowed the seed while ranting and swearing. This custom is mirrored in French verbage where semer le baslic (sowing basil) means to rant.

In medieval times, it was thought that scorpions came from basil. Legend says to acquire a scorpion, one should place a few basil leaves under a flowerpot and after awhile, the pot would be lifted to expose a scorpion. This legend no doubt ties into the Greek lore of the basilisk.

In India, basil was consecrated to the Hindu god, Vishnu, whose wife Tulasi (also known as Tulsi) was said to have taken the form of basil when she came to earth. Hindus avoid harming basil plants, unless there is a good reason, and even then offer up prayers of forgiveness for touching a part of Tulasi. Interestingly enough, tradition requires the head of a Hindu be bathed in Tulasi water before being buried and a Tulasi leaf is placed on the chest over the heart.

To the ancient Romans, it was a symbol of hatred, yet basil eventually became a token of love in Italy. Young maidens would wear a sprig of basil in their hair to profess their availability. In some regions of Italy, basil is known as "kiss-me-Nicholas." One can only wonder if the conflicting symbolism of basil in Rome is the origin of a love-hate relationship.





Sweet Basil


Comment: Sweet Basil, Ocimum basilicum

Look for Sweet Basil on:
Google: Sweet Basil Wikipedia: Sweet Basil YouTube: Sweet Basil
Phylogenetic Tree of Life

Learn how to create a custom
Tree of Life





© Copyright 2006 - 2017 HealthyHomeGardening.com.
All Rights Reserved.
Web Design by Artatom