There are more than a thousand species of plants on our planet but how many do you know? If you know most of them, how much do you know about them? Have you heard of Basil? If yes what do you know about Basil? I am here to keep you informed about Basil, its varieties, usefulness, potential benefits it offers, and other helpful information that can boost your knowledge about plants. Read on!
What Is Basil?
Basil applauds itself as a leafy herb with therapeutic (healthy) effect when taken into the body system. This herbal plant belongs to the family of mints and it is also known as Saint John’s Worth. It has a scientific name known as Oscimum basilicum. The plant comes in many varieties often differing in characteristics such as taste, smell, and savor. These differing characteristics occur as a result of the essential oils present in them. Their scent can either be sweet or pungent.
Basil supplies nutrients in the form of vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin K, Calcium, Iron and manganese. With these nutrients, you can add basil as a sauce to your meal. Sometimes the ample quantity added to a meal is only enough to provide Vitamin K as the only vitamin. A touch of basil as a homemade recipe is indeed a secret to good meals.
History of Basil – the Notable Moments
The history of basil spans in different countries with different sub-cultural beliefs. According to the Greeks, the methodology of basil’s scientific name (Oscimum basilicum) was said to be associated with a great man called Ocimus who was killed by a gladiator during the war. It was added that the moment he died was when basil appeared. Also, the second name (species) is said to symbolize king in old Latin. This makes the basil a resemblance of the mourning during that time. It was believed that at the time 807A.D the Egyptians used the basil as a natural preservative for embalming their dead as a symbol of love.
Many archaeologists confirmed this to be true as most Egyptians gravestones dated to that time was found to contain an essence of basil around the dead bodies. There were also some negativities revolving around basil. For example, the Romans believe basil represents poverty, hate and misfortune all propagated from the belief that this plant thrives where abuse is inevitable. It was so much dreaded by ancient Greece that there will be much cursing and squalling whenever the plant was seen cultivated.
Meanwhile, if you seem bored with the ancient notion, then stick to the fact that basil originated from the Indians and was grown and cultivated for 5000 years. Its importance in culinary activities made it diversify to other Asian countries like China, Singapore, Thailand and it is still in use till date. Britain and Americans never got to know about Basil until the advent of the 16th century.
However, it is impertinent to note that despite its specific application to food flavoring today. The Historical basil plant was used in the area of Embalming, preservatives, expression of love, decoration/ornamentals, perfumery and medicinal remedies (because it possesses essential oil with potent anti-oxidative and antimicrobial effect).
The Various Favourable and Beautiful Basil Varieties Available
1. Sweet Basil
This variety of basil features large leaves with a medium green color and an aromatic scent. The plant itself has a size 24 to 30 inches tall, 18 inches wide. Sweet basil is one of the prominent forms of basil you can ever find in a basil garden. For whatever pestos, salads, and marinades you buy there is a chance it contains sweet basil. They are known to be irritating to some types of insects like mosquitoes.
2. Purple Basil
This variety of basil strikes has ornamental basil with a plant size 12 – 18 inches tall. It has leaves with glossy purplish color and is highly aromatic. It has a slight licorice taste which is not as sweet as other varieties known. It is best used as a decorative for most Italian dishes.
3. Lemon Basil
One notable characteristic of the lemon basil is that it has green leaves with a narrow and elongated oval shape. These leaves also have a pleasant Lemon-like aroma. The basil plant grows at size 12 – 18 inches tall. It is highly nutritional has it comes with a high level of vitamin C, vitamin K and with nutrients like manganese, copper. It has anti-microbial and anti-oxidative characteristics which make it useful as a sauce and preservative for fish or poultry marinades.
4. Lime Basil
The lime Basil has a plant size of 16-24 inches tall and is a rare variety sometimes confused with lemon basil. It possesses leaves which are bright green with a narrow shape and also has a citrus aroma. It is usually added with lemon for use in sauces and tea to bring out a tantalizing combination.
5. Holy Basil
The Holy Basil (originating from India) is has a high medicinal value due to its analgesic properties. This strongly scented herb is used to reduce stress or relieve headaches and help maintain a healthy blood sugar level. It is recommended in most culinary books to be added to spicy soups majorly due to its peppery taste.
6. Cinnamon Basil
This variety of Basil is also known as the Mexican basil with dark shiny leaves as a unique feature. The cinnamon basil is well known to be aromatic because of the presence of a chemical known as methyl cinnamate. Best blended with rice pudding to give a tasty and delicious meal.
This variety is best described as a plant with dark purple stems and has a plant size up to 18 inches tall. The purple like color is primarily due to the presence of anthocyanin. This variety also features tear-drop like leaves with an anise aroma. Depending on its growing conditions it has color foliage ranging from bright to deep purple also laced with a green accent. It is a herbal basil best used as a remedy against coughs and cold due. It has the nutritional value of vitamin K, iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium and potassium. It can be used as either a flavor or garnish in salads and pasta.
8. Green Ruffles
One of the best varieties of Basil to plant in your garden is the Green Ruffles. It has leaves which are distinctly ruffled and curly in appearance. It also comes with a mild and delicate flavor. It is quite larger than sweet basil and applied as an ornamental plant. It is flavorsome and reputed to be like sweet basil which makes it perfect for pasta dishes.
9. Cardinal Basil
This plant is particularly tall with plant size that reaches 24-30 inches tall. It comes with leaves that bright green in color with a thick, oval shape. The leaves are slightly spicier with a licorice taste. It is used majorly because of its essential oils which are beneficial in lowering blood pressure and treats indigestion.
10. Spicy Bush Basil
The Spicy Bush Basil is quite an aromatic plant with plant size 8-12 inches tall. It is one of the decorative basil plants laced with small shiny green leaves on highly branched stems. This form of basil is used as a carminative. It is said to treat stomach problems and inhibit gastric acid secretion.
11. Greek Basil
The Greek basil is a plant native to India. It features small- sized but elongated leaves with a green color and a sweet scent. It is best used for a culinary purpose to add flavor to foods and dishes.
The summerlong basil is a very compact variety of French basil with tight bushes. It has a little appearance and is quite slow to germinate or bolt. It features densely covered, shiny and bright green leaves. Its decorative feature makes it great for pots and decorative edging in vegetable beds.
13. Spicy Globe Basil
This variety has smaller has smaller leaves than any other common type of Basil. It is basil plant shaped like a spherical bush. It has fragrant oval green leaves which has an aromatic scent. It is said to have a plant size about 12 inches tall and widely spread about 12- inches. This variety of basil finds its applications in culinary and ornamentals.
14. African Blue Basil
The African Blue Basil was said to find its first origin in Kenya. It features leaves which are purple under maturity but changes dark green with purple flecks and marron veins making them ornamental. It is quite high in its camphor and camphene concentration making it suitable for medicinal purpose. It includes essential oils like eugenol, citronellol and so on which are anti-inflammatory.
15. Lettuce Basil
The Lettuce Basil is a variety of Italian basil with a mild flavor. It comes with plant sizes between 6- 10 inches tall and 4 inches wide. It comes with large distinctive leaves with a wrinkled patch. This leafy property makes them useful as lettuce wraps wherein you can pack some other fruit salads. This variety of basil is probably the most productive of all.
16. Thai Sweet Basil
The Thai Sweet Basil is spectacular basil often used in Asian dishes. It features small and dark-pointed leaves with a spicy, Licorice flavor. One amazing quality that makes it matchless to other forms of basil is that it can retain all it flavor no matter the temperature applied
17. Genovese Basil
The Genovese Basil is classic Italian basil with large dark leaves which are tender, has an intense flavor and aromatic. This variety of basil is best planted in containers packed with loamy soil. It has a plant size 16-18 inches tall and 12-16 inches wide. It is widely applied in Italian and Asian dishes where it is a constituent of various pasta and salads.
18. Licorice Basil
The Licorice Basil comes as a lanky plant with a breed from western Thai basil. The Licorice Basil is also known as Anise Basil. It features leaves which are green-like and also pointed. It comes along with burgundy like flowers which are quite edible too. When crushed the leaves generate a fragrant and spicy taste making it a good use as a condiment for multiple culinary purposes.
19. Dwarf Greek Basil
The Dwarf Greek Basil is highly priced culinary basil with its savory flavor. It has plant sizes 10-14 inches tall. It features tiny, bright green leaves form a spherically shaped plant. The leaves bring out the fragrant smell when crushed. It also features either white or fake pink flowers. It has broad applications in gardening, culinary and medical applications.
20. Christmas Basil
The Christmas Basil is one of a special basil gotten as a crossbreed of Thai and Genovese species. The basil Christmas plant is 12-inches tall and spreads 12-inches wide. Leaves from this basil variety have a glossy green color. It also features profusely stunning purple flowers making them useful as an ornamental flower. It has a unique fruity aroma representing Christmas time.
21. Purple Ruffles Basil
The purple Ruffel basil is yet another variety of basil to add to your collection of gardening. It quite similar with the dark Opal Basil in that it comes with a purplish leaf with shades of green. It is used as a decorative plant.
22. Dark Opal Basil
This basil variety is indeed quite decorative. It has uniquely beautified dark purplish coloring. This variety is a great one to use to add color to your garden and attract agents of pollination
23. Italian Large Leaf Basil
In search of a basil variety that tastes like a little sweeter. Then the Italian Large basil is your best option. It features distinctively large green ruffled leaves with pointed ends. It is best added to many an Italian dish by simply tearing into tearing them in.
What Are The Benefits Of Basil?
In a healthy term, basils are known to comprise of beneficial nutrients to the human body. It is also quite light in its caloric contents at 22 caloric content per 100 grams. This quality makes basil life-sustaining for good bodily developments. Usage of this daily will propel a healthy lifestyle within you and around your environment. Basil contains a wide variety of essential oils that help promote your body health. Basil should be an extra supplement to cure whatever health problems you have. They function in the area of:
Having a tumor growth on any parts of the body proves to be deadly. It is estimated that 80% of all likely tumors generate into cancer later on if proper care isn’t taken. A category of basil known as the holy basil helps to deal with the effect of any tumor growth on your body. Research findings stated this to be true due to the composition of phytochemicals (flavonoids) such as Apigenin, Luteolin, Carnosic acid, rosmaric acid and myretenal. These phytochemicals function by increasing antioxidant activity by chelating with cells which goes a long way to trigger a change in gene expression and kill off tumors. Also, the presence of vitamin D help carry out the function of fighting off some basic type of cancer such as breast cancer.