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Overview

Brief Summary

Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is unusual among the many culinary herbs in the mint family (Lamiaceae=Labiateae) in that it is thought to have its origins in India. This plant has been cultivated in India and the Middle East since ancient times and was known to the Greeks and Romans. In addition to its very familiar uses such as in tomato-based sauces and salads, it is an ingredient in the liqueur chartreuse.

Sweet Basil is an erect annual, up to 35 cm in height, with ovate, toothed or entire, leaves which are up to 8 cm in length. The flowers are white or purple-tinged, around 1 cm long, and borne in simple terminal racemes. Some varieties have partly red or entirely purple leaves.

(Vaughan and Geissler 1997)

A great diversity of Sweet Basil varieties have been developed (see Simon et al.1999). Several aroma compounds can be found in different chemotypes of basil, including citral, eugenol, University of Vermont Extension provides links to a number of useful sources on Basil production.

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Comprehensive Description

Miscellaneous Details

"Notes: Cultivated, Native of Mediterranean Region"
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Brief

Flowering class: Dicot Habit: Herb Distribution notes: Exotic
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Distribution

"
Global Distribution

Paleotropics

Indian distribution

State - Kerala, District/s: All Districts

"
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Tamil Nadu: All districts
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Throughout the warmer parts of Asia, Africa and America; widely eultivated.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Elevation Range

300-1500 m
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Description

Herbs annual. Stems erect, 20-80 cm tall, apex retrorse puberulent, base glabrous, tinged red, much branched. Petiole ca. 1.5 cm, ± narrowly winged apically; leaf blade ovate to oblong, 2.5-5 × 1-2.5 cm, subglabrous, abaxially glandular, base attenuate, margin irregularly dentate or subentire, apex subobtuse to acute; lateral veins 3- or 4-paired. Thyrses 10-20 cm, puberulent; verticillasters puberulent or densely pilose, approximate apically; bracts sessile, oblanceolate, 5-8 mm, base attenuate, margin ciliate, apex acute, colored. Pedicel ca. 3 mm in flower, to 5 mm in fruit. Calyx campanulate, ca. 4 × 3.5 mm, pubescent outside, pilose at throat inside, tube ca. 2 mm; middle tooth of upper lip widest, ca. 2 × 1 mm, subcircular, concave, apex mucronate; lateral teeth broadly ovate, ca. 1.5 mm, apex acute; lower lip teeth lanceolate, ca. 2 mm, apex spinescent, ciliate; fruiting calyx persistent, conspicuously veined. Corolla purplish or with upper lip white, limb puberulent outside; tube ca. 3 mm, throat ± dilated; upper lip wide, ca. 3 × 4.5 mm, 4-lobed, ± flat; lower lip purple, ca. 6 mm. Stamens free, slightly exserted, posterior 2 dentate, base puberulent. Nutlets dark brown, ovoid, ca. 2.5 × 1 mm, glandular foveolate. Fl. Jul-Sep, fr. Sep-Dec.
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Diagnostic Description

Diagnostic

"Erect annual herbs to 60 cm tall; stem obtusely 4-angular. Leaves 3.5-6 x 1.5-2.5 cm, ovate-elliptic, base cuneate, margin entire to distantly crenulate, apex acute, puberulous above, pubescent with sessile oil galnds beneath; petiole to 2 cm long. Racemes to 14 cm long; bracts oblanceolate, ciliate; pedicel to 2 mm long. Calyx to 6 mm long; tube c. 3 mm long, sparsely strigose; upper lip c. 3 mm long, broadly ovate; lower lip to 4 mm long, hairy within. Corolla cream, 7-10 mm long; tube c. 4 mm long, inflated below; lobes 5. Stamens 4; filaments of posterior pair with a transverse process of tufted hairs. Nutlets 2-3 x 1-1.5 mm, ellipsoid, black, mucilaginous when wet. Fruiting calyx 6-8 mm long."
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Diagnostic

Habit: Herb
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Ecology

Habitat

General Habitat

"Dry deciduous forests, also in the plains; often cultivated"
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Habitat & Distribution

Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Guizhou, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Jilin, Sichuan, Taiwan, Xinjiang, Yunnan, Zhejiang [Africa, Asia]
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Associations

Foodplant / pathogen
Peronospora cf. lamii infects and damages live Ocimum basilicum

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flowering and fruiting: Throughout the year
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Ocimum basilicum

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Ocimum basilicum

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 27
Specimens with Barcodes: 34
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Management

These species are introduced in Switzerland.
  • Aeschimann, D. & C. Heitz. 2005. Synonymie-Index der Schweizer Flora und der angrenzenden Gebiete (SISF). 2te Auflage. Documenta Floristicae Helvetiae N° 2. Genève.   http://www.crsf.ch/ External link.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Leaf: Infusion for a sedative and antispasmodic.

  • Devez, G. 1932. Les Plantes Utiles et les Bois Industriels de la Guyane. 90 pp. Paris: Societe d'Editions Geographiques, Maritimes et Coloniales.

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Uses

Medicinal
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Notes

Common Names

French Guiana: petit basilic.

  • Devez, G. 1932. Les Plantes Utiles et les Bois Industriels de la Guyane. 90 pp. Paris: Societe d'Editions Geographiques, Maritimes et Coloniales.

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Synonyms

  • Devez, G. 1932. Les Plantes Utiles et les Bois Industriels de la Guyane. 90 pp. Paris: Societe d'Editions Geographiques, Maritimes et Coloniales.

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