Basil has been grown in Europe since 300AD and on the Indian subcontinent and in South East Asia for millennia. Basil plants hybridise readily and it is likely that movement of plants, grown for culinary purposes, has resulted in the vast range of different plants we now know today. Basil in all its forms is now cultivated all around the world.
With fragrant lush growth, Sweet Basil is probably the most popular culinary Basil grown today. Used in a variety of dishes, it is a particularly good match with any dish, especially tomatoes.
Throughout the centuries Basil has been associated with all manner of meanings and folkloric tales. It is widely venerated in many countries, particularly India, where Sacred Basil is regarded as the most sacred of all plants.
Basil belongs to the genus Ocimum and the family Lamiaceae, which also includes many other famous herb members such as the mints, thyme, sage and rosemary.
Most popular Basil cultivars are annuals; however Greek, African Blue, Camphor and many other species are perennial.
Other topics covered include:
- Culinary uses
- Not so edible
- Other uses
- Pest watch
10 Basil Beauties
- Sweet – Ocimum basilicum
- Dwarf Greek – Ocimum minimum (syn. O. basilicum ‘Minimum’)
- Bush Greek – Ocimum × citriodorum ‘Lesbos’
- Cinnamon – Ocimum basilicum ‘Cinnamon’
- Lemon/Lime – Ocimum americanum
- Purple – Ocimum basilicum cultivars including ‘Dark Opal’ and ‘Purple Ruffles’
- Sacred/Holy – Ocimum tenuiflorum (syn. O. sanctum) cultivars ‘Tulsi Krisha Basil’, ‘Tulsia Rama Basil’, ‘Thai Holy Basil’ and ‘Thai Krapao Basil’
- African Blue/Perennial – Ocimum kilimandscharicum x O. basilicum ‘Dark Opal’
- Camphor – Ocimum kilimandscharicum
- Thai/Siam – Ocimum basilicum cultivars including ‘Siam Queen’