By Sarah Fiorello

Ocimum basilicum

Sweet basil is native to tropical and subtropical Asia. It is widely cultivated and used as a culinary seasoning in many countries. European colonists grew sweet basil in their gardens and used its scented leaves as a seasoning in salads and soups. The leaves were also used in remedies for treating headaches, colds, and nausea. Enslaved Africans recognized the similarities to African basil and adapted sweet basil as a familiar culinary, medicinal, and protective plant. Sweet basil leaves are currently used in folk remedies to lower fevers associated with colds and flu, and to relieve fatigue, headaches, nausea, and stomach cramps.

Photo: Pam Shade

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