Ocimum basilicum Lamiaceae

Growth habit




Native distribution

Africa, Asia


Robison Herb Garden

Source of plant

Nichols Garden Nursery


Ocimum basilicum, commonly called basil, is a native of Africa and Asia. Tradition has it that basil was found growing around Christ's tomb after the Resurrection, and consequently, some Greek Orthodox churches use it to prepare holy water and pots of basil are set below church altars. In India, basil was believed to be imbued with a divine essence, and oaths were sworn upon it in courts. A number of varieties exist today, ranging from a tiny-leafed Greek basil to robust 2-foot-high plants with large succulent leaves. Some varieties have deep purple leaves. While flowers are typically small and whitish, some can be pink to brilliant magenta. Leaves can be dried for later use. Basil is extremely frost sensitive.

USDA Hardiness Zone


Special characteristics

food, spices, other ethnobotanical uses