homebanner homebanner homebanner homebanner homebanner homebanner
Ocimum basilicum - L.
Common Name Sweet Basil, Common Basil, Thai Basil, Tropical Basil
Family Lamiaceae or Labiatae
USDA hardiness 9-11
Known Hazards Basil contains estragole a potentially carcinogenic and mutagenic essential oil. Do not take during pregnancy or give basil oil to small infants/children.
Habitats Long cultivated, its original habitat is obscure[132].
Range Tropical Asia?
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Tender Moist Soil Full sun

Bloom Color: Purple, White. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Late summer, Mid summer. Form: Rounded.

Ocimum basilicum Sweet Basil, Common Basil, Thai Basil, Tropical Basil

Ocimum basilicum Sweet Basil, Common Basil, Thai Basil, Tropical Basil
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Ocimum basilicum is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 0.3 m (1ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10 and is frost tender. It is in flower from Aug to September, and the seeds ripen in September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Ocimum album, Ocimum anisatum, Ocimum barrelieri, Ocimum medium, Plectranthus barrelieri .

 Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves;  Seed.
Edible Uses: Condiment;  Drink;  Tea.

Leaves and flowers - raw or cooked[4, 21, 27]. Used as a flavouring or as a spinach[14, 61], they are used especially with tomato dishes, pasta sauces, beans, peppers and aubergines[238]. The leaves are normally used fresh but can also be dried for winter use[21]. A very pleasant addition to salads[K], the leaves have a delightful scent of cloves[4]. Use the leaves sparingly in cooking because the heat concentrates the flavour[244]. A refreshing tea is made from the leaves[21]. The seed can be eaten on its own or added to bread dough as a flavouring[183]. When soaked in water it becomes mucilaginous and can be made into a refreshing beverage called 'sherbet tokhum' in the Mediterranean[183]. An essential oil obtained from the plant is used as a food flavouring in mustards, sauces, vinegars etc[57, 105, 183]
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antibacterial;  Antidepressant;  Antirheumatic;  Antispasmodic;  Appetizer;  Aromatherapy;  Aromatic;  Carminative;  
Digestive;  Galactogogue;  Ophthalmic;  Stomachic;  Tonic.

Sweet basil has been used for thousands of years as a culinary and medicinal herb. It acts principally on the digestive and nervous systems, easing flatulence, stomach cramps, colic and indigestion[254]. The leaves and flowering tops are antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, digestive, galactogogue, stomachic and tonic[7, 14, 21, 178, 218]. They are taken internally in the treatment of feverish illnesses (especially colds and influenza), poor digestion, nausea, abdominal cramps, gastro-enteritis, migraine, insomnia, depression and exhaustion[238]. Externally, they are used to treat acne, loss of smell, insect stings, snake bites and skin infections[238]. The leaves can be harvested throughout the growing season and are used fresh or dried[238]. The mucilaginous seed is given in infusion in the treatment of gonorrhoea, dysentery and chronic diarrhoea[240]. It is said to remove film and opacity from the eyes[218]. The root is used in the treatment of bowel complaints in children[240]. Extracts from the plant are bactericidal and are also effective against internal parasites[218, 238]. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is 'Clearing'[210]. In Chinese medicine for kidney disease and gum ulcers [301]. In Indian medicine foe earache, rheumatoid arthritis, anorexia, itching, menstrual disorders, and malaria [301].
Other Uses
Essential;  Repellent;  Strewing.

An essential oil obtained from the whole plant is used as a food flavouring and in perfumery, dental applications etc[46, 57, 61, 105, 171, 238]. An average yield of 1.5% essential oil is obtained from the flowering tops[7]. When applied to the skin it makes a good mosquito repellent[7]. The growing or dried plant is an effective insect repellent. It is a good plant to grow in the home, where it repels flies, or in the greenhouse where it can keep all manner of insect pests away from nearby plants[14, 20, K]. It has been used in the past as a strewing herb[201].
Cultivation details
Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Specimen. Prefers a rich light well-drained to dry soil[1, 27, 238]. Requires a sunny sheltered position if grown outdoors[52]. Tolerates a pH in the range 5 to 8[238]. Sweet basil is commonly grown as an aromatic culinary and medicinal herb in warm temperate and tropical climates. There are a number of different constituents that make up the essential oil in basil, and the proportions of these vary considerably between plants growing in different regions of the world[238]. From this variety many named varieties with differing flavour characteristics have been developed[46, 238]. Basil is a perennial plant in the tropics, but it is frost tender and needs to be grown as a half-hardy annual in temperate zones[142]. It is a very good companion plant to grow in the house or greenhouse, its aromatic foliage helping to reduce problems caused by insect pests[K]. It requires a good hot summer in Britain if it is to do well outdoors[K]. Sweet basil is a good companion plant for tomatoes but it grows badly with rue and sage[14, 18, 20, 201]. When grown near raspberries it can retard their fruiting[201]. Special Features:Attractive foliage, Edible, Fragrant foliage, Not North American native, Suitable for dried flowers, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.
Seed - sow mid to late spring in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. Germination is usually free and quick, prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. If growing basil outdoors, plant out after the last expected frosts.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Plant Suppliers: Click here for a List

      You can download this page as a PDF

Expert comment
Botanical References
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
Readers comment
Elizabeth H.
Gwen Fyfe Tue Oct 19 23:27:46 2004
This site and the one listed below were both very helpful for my lab report on basil. Thanks!

www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=85 - 25k


Link: WH foods

Elizabeth H.
Eirik Holth Wed Feb 1 2006
Helpful site for my lab report on basil as well!
Elizabeth H.
mike hickling Sat Jun 21 2008
Only wanted info on growing thai basil 'cause I love green jungle curry but had to praise this page. It's excellent likewise the whfoods.com is a good site
Elizabeth H.
Ron Forrester Sat Oct 10 2009
Would like to no were i can buy ocimum basil as i just read it can help my arthritis..
QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.
2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.
3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the pfaf.org website on their phone.
Add a comment/link

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at admin@pfaf.org. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

Subject : Ocimum basilicum  

Plant Uses

Edible Uses
Medicinal Uses
Other Plant uses
Woodland Gardening
Why Perennial Plants?
Top Edible Plants
Top Medicinal Plants
Garden Design


Content Help
Support Us
Old Database Search
About Us
Sign In

PFAF Newsletter

Stay informed about PFAFs progress,
challenges and hopes by signing up for
our free email newsletter. You will receive
a range of benefits including:
* Important announcements and news
* Exclusive content not on the website
* Updates on new information &
functionality of the website & database

We will not sell or share your email address.
You can unsubscribe at anytime.