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Sweet basil

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Sweet basil
Basil 2.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Ocimum basilicum

Basil 10.jpg
Sweet basil leaf shoot

Sweet basil is a species of flowering plants known by the scientific name Ocimum basilicum. They are sun-loving annual herbs known vastly as a cooking ingredient in Italian food with its spicy taste and mint smell on the plant. The word basil means "king" in Greek, and it has been highly treated in old centuries just as its name. Basil has been often found with kings in Egyptian tombs. The leaves and flowers produce good smell and used in flavoring many kinds of vegetables and fruits. This unique herb is known throughout the world for its uses and it is easy-to-grow. Sweet basils are found growing wild in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. They have been, and are being used medicinally in many ways from fighting stomach parasites to reducing fevers.

Some Christians believe that basil grew around the tomb of Jesus and is sometimes used to prepare holy water. The Hindus plant it near their temples. [1][2]


various kinds of basil leaves

Sweet basil, the sun-loving annual plants (live one season), are native to India. They form a bushy appearance with leafy stems. They can grow anywhere from 12 to 24 inches, and have dark green or purple leaves. Basil flowers have white or purplish color, are half an inch long, and they are divided into an upper and lower section. Their life time varies from 4 to 6 months depending on its local climate. The plant is most active in temperatures between 50 and 90 degrees. Less than 50 or more than 90 degrees of temperature will cause the plants to die. However when a mulch, the equipment that controls temperature, is used into the ground, it can control the soil temperature for a better environment. [3][4] Sweet basil needs only a little space of 9-12 inches to live, and the difficulty of the plant is almost impossible to find. Therefore it is the most known basil in our gardens for its good smell and looks. Additionally, it is easy to grow. Sweet basils are angiosperm (flowering plants), with the seeds inside of the fruit. It is in the class named dicot (dicotyledon), having unique characteristics. The embryo (new-born plants) from the class of dicot has two cotyledons (seed leaves), and the numbers of petals are parted in 4 or 5. Sweet basils are herbaceous (nonwoody, non-persistent), having the taproot shaped roots, and the leaf venation is net-shaped.[5]

Leaves The leaves are generally a broad oval shape and make a special fragrance. Their special smell and taste can help to make the materials that are needed for food. They have an aniseed flavor (substance made from the seeds of the anise plant) and a reddish purple color at the leafstalk. This sweet basil leaves are often used for making Thai red curry, green curry and some stir-fried dishes. They may be used for spicy mint dishes too. It contains Vitamin A, B1, B2, C, Calcium, iron, fiber, phosphorus and betacarotene.[6]

Flowers The flowers do not have good flavor all though they may be fun to look at. Meanwhile, they have a mint of basil smell and taste.[7] Even so, they bother the leaves to produce good smells, therefore many people pinch off the flowers when they start to form, unless they want to see the seeds. If blossoms remain on the plant, it will stop producing new leaves, moving up to the stage of making seeds.[8]


sweet basil seeds sprouting

Sweet basils reproduce the same as the other basil cultivars from the species O. basilicum. Basils reproduce asexually with the seeds. The meaning of asexual reproduction is that this plant does not have the union of gametes (sex cell), allowing them to reproduce without the opposite sex. The bacteria can divide themselves without affecting other individuals. In asexual reproduction in plants, the viruses of the host cells can create other viruses. These organisms can split off into two or more individuals, forming a new plant. [9] It is best to sow the seed in early spring, or if transplanting is possible, do so when the frost is gone. Make sure to space them 8 to 12 inches apart so they do not disturb each other. Pinch off the flower spikes right after they form, then the new leaves will be steadier. The leaves can be stored and dried and they will shrivel in volume, but still retaining their flavor. [10]


India is native to plant basil

The genus Ocimum evolved in warm and tropical regions. Therefore sweet basil needs high temperatures to live in. They require warmth(50℉ minimum) to grow and require heat (between 80℉ and 90℉) to thrive. The light does not affect much for any plants living in tropic areas. [11] Giving water regularly, controlling the temperature will provide them a great circumstance. They are attractive to insects such as bees, butterflies, and even to birds. The soil pH requires of 4.3 to 8.2. 500 to 8000 mm annual precipitation is required as well. [12] They develop best under long days, in full sun, and well-drained soils.

Sweet basil is tender herbaceous annual plants, making them able to live almost all over the world. Sweet basils are generally found in warm areas such as India, Africa and Southern Asia. Warmth, light, and moisture are the basic needs for basil cultivation. Basil can develop best in sunny days. The flowering parts can appear quickly when the plants are placed under light for about 15 hours. The best temperature during the day is 24 to 27℃ and the night is between 19 and 22℃. At this rate, the plant can reach to seed germination in five days. [13]

Uses of basil

homemade Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli in a light fresh tomato broth with sweet basil and pine nuts
sweet basil in penne beef pasta

Sweet basil is a great choice to plant in the gardens, because it helps in various ways in culinary, medicinal, and even decorative. It is easy to grow and takes small space It might be one of the best plant in gardens.
Culinary uses
Sweet basil is used in various ways to make food, and to flavor food. Sweet basils have a pungent, aromatic and spicy flavour giving ideas of imagination and creativity to develop the food taste. Sprinkling basil on potatoes, eggplant, cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, or tomatoes are the best ideas of using sweet basil onto the vegetables. They have a great affinity for tomatoes. They are also added in beans, cheeses, chicken, eggs, fish, marinades, marrows, mushrooms, pasta, pasta sauces and salads. The sprigs (young branches) are added in salads full of nutrition. Traditionally, sweet basil is the main ingredients for pesto, green oil herb sauce which can be used as a pasta sauce or as a dipping sauce.
Medicinal Uses
As used extensively for culinary, sweet basil is also useful for treating ailments. The oils found in the plants are said to have antioxidants, anti-viral, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial properties. These ingredients help from one's stress, colds, and fever. Basil tea helps digestive problems, and it is very effective. Sweet basil flowers are used in therapy reducing any stresses. The dried leaves can be a treatment for colds when someone sniffs it.
Sweet basil was used for ages to treat diseases of...

  • the brain
  • heart
  • lungs
  • bladder
  • reviving vitality

Decorative Uses
Sweet basil has a symbolic meaning of honor and love, and was given as a gift to celebrate a birthday or to a spouse in Valentine's Day. Since basil meant love and honor, it was the ingredient to make the wreaths. Wreaths were worn by those who accomplished a great honor at the parties and for religious occasions in the ancient times. Sometimes it was hung or worn to get off of the evil spirits. In the ancient time, people believed the basil had healing properties, and now sweet basil is used to heal diverse ailments extensively throughout the world. [14][15]



How to grow a basil


Additional resources