Ocimum basilicum (basil)
Ocimum basilicum (Photo: Wolfgang Stuppy)
Ocimum basilicum L.
basil, sweet basil
Cultivated, not frost-hardy.
Food, perfume, flavoured liqueurs, medicine, insecticide.
About this species
Basil is an important economic crop producing annually c.100 tonnes of essential oil worldwide and with a trade value as a pot herb of around US$15 million per year. It is also widely used in systems of indigenous medicine.
Much confusion surrounds basil taxonomy with several forms having different attributes being recognised under the same name. However, a study by Dr Eli Putievsky of Newe Ya'ar Research Centre, Haifa, Israel, working with Alan Paton during a sabbatical year at Kew, used analysis of chromosome numbers and essential oils alongside morphological descriptions to investigate a standardisation of the approach. This type of work is extremely important in order to develop the full economic and medicinal potential of plant species.