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Ocimum basilicum Basilicum Lamiaceae
Basil is an annual herb to 2-3 ft (0.6-0.9 m) tall with green stems (usually woody at the base) that are square in cross section. Basil has opposite leaves, 2-4 in (5.1-10.2cm) long, and tiny purple or white flowers arranged in flattened whorls that encircle the stems, one whorl above another. Plants are leafy and branch freely with a pair of opposing branches in a flat plane, then another pair above in a plane perpendicular to the last, and so on. There are many cultivars of basil, selected for their fragrances and colors.
Basil is easy to raise and fast growing too.
Light: Full sun or, in very hot climates, light, partial shade.
Moisture: Basil likes a well-drained soil and regular watering. It appreciates a good mulch covering over the roots.
Hardiness: Basil is a tender annual and cannot tolerate frost. It sometimes seems like the leaves turn black if frost is just in the forecast! If it doesn't get frosted, basil sometimes will live for two years.
Propagation: Basil is easy to grow from seed. Sow in place after all danger of frost has past. For areas with short growing seasons, start indoors 4-8 weeks before setting out.
Country of Origin: Tropical Asia
Extraction Method: Steam distilled
Parts Used: The oil is steam distilled from the leaves
Basil must be used freshly cut, its lively spicy aroma is easily lost. The leaves contain < 1 % essential oil of variable composition. Major constituents are linalool and methylchavicol (estragol) together with eugenol, methyleugenol, methyl cinnamate, 1,8-cineole, caryophyllene, etc.