Skip to main content
You are here
Facebook icon
Pinterest icon
Twitter icon

Ocimum basilicum (basil)

Ocimum basilicum, commonly known as basil, is an aromatic annual herb and an important economic crop.
Flowers of Ocimum basilicum

Ocimum basilicum (Photo: Wolfgang Stuppy)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Ocimum basilicum L.

Common name: 

basil, sweet basil

Conservation status: 

Least concern.

Habitat: 

Cultivated, not frost-hardy.

Key Uses: 

Food, perfume, flavoured liqueurs, medicine, insecticide.

Known hazards: 

None.

Taxonomy

Subclass: 
Superorder: 
Lamiales
Order: 
Lamiales
Family: 
Lamiaceae
Genus: Ocimum

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.
 

Genus: 
Ocimum

main info