Types Of Basil That You Can Grow In Your Garden

All types of basil belong to the botanical genus Ocimum . However, the best known is the common basil (Ocimum basilicum) which is used for culinary and medicinal purposes. Beyond this, there are other interesting species to grow in the garden. Do you know them?

First of all, keep in mind that this plant prefers warm summer temperatures. In fact, it tends to wilt early at the first sign of low temperatures. Still, it is easy to grow and ideal for gardens of any size. We tell you more in the next space.

Main types of basil

Plant species that belong to the Lamiaceae family are noted for their long history as aromatic and medicinal herbs. Of these, the most popular are those of the Ocimum genus that we all know as “basil.”

In particular, it is estimated that there are more than 30 types of basil. Each variety differs both in its flavor, its color and its shape. What are the most cultivated in gardens? We detail them below.

Common basil

Its scientific name is  Ocimum basilicum and it is also known as “sweet basil”. It is native to South Asia, but it is also cultivated throughout the world. According to an Expert Opin Drug Metab Toxicol review , the plant and its essential oils have bioactive compounds that promote health. 

These compounds include polyphenols and flavonoids, whose antioxidant action is associated with the prevention of chronic diseases. In the kitchen it is frequently used to prepare pestos, marinades and salads.

Basil pesto.

Purple basil

It is one of the types of basil that is derived from common basil. Its scientific name is  Ocimum basilicum var. purpurascens and is characterized by its particular purple leaves. The plant does not grow much, as it does not exceed half a meter in height. 

A publication in Food & Function states that this variety is abundant in anthocyanins. In addition, it stands out for its antimicrobial properties. Its uses in gastronomy are similar to those of common basil.

Purple basil

Purple basil is the species with the scientific name Ocimum tenuiflorum. It is also known as “cimarrona basil” or “holy basil” and its plant can reach up to a meter in height. The leaves are purple when the plant develops in full sun; otherwise they are green. In fact, it has leaves of both colors.

According to a review published in Pharmacognosy Reviews , this variety of basil has compounds with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antidiabetic, antimicrobial, cardioprotective and analgesic potential. Although it is usually used in tea, it is also added to other drinks such as lemonades.

Fine basil

It is one of the types of basil that are used for decorative purposes. Its scientific name is Ocimum minimum  and it is characterized by its small size. In Asia it has a long history as an aromatic and medicinal herb. In addition, these uses have spread to other parts of the world.

Essential oils abundant in eugenol and linalool are obtained from the plant, two substances with antimicrobial potential, according to an article in the journal Molecules .

Genovese basil

Genovese basil (Ocimum basilicum ‘Genovese’)  is popular for its applications in Italian cuisine. It is often used in the preparation of pasta and pizza . It is characterized by its large curved leaves that are often used in the preparation of pesto.

Through the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry it was reported that this type of basil contains volatile oils with pharmacological qualities. However, these should be used sparingly. Evidence on its safe doses and efficacy is still lacking.

Cinnamon basil

The scientific name for this basil is Ocimum basilicum ‘Cinnamon’. Its name is due to the fact that it contains a substance that is also present in cinnamon and that gives it its particular aroma. The leaves are green, but some have reddish or purple tones. Although some use it for culinary purposes, it is usually only decorative.

Lemon basil

Some types of basil are also hybrids. This is the case of lemon basil (Ocimum × citriodorum),  which is a hybrid between sweet basil and the Ocimum americanum species . The plant does not reach half a meter in height and has white flowers

It is often used in Arabic, Persian and Thai cuisine due to its particular lemon smell. It is often included in recipes for salads, soups, stews, or grilled dishes.

Use of the types of basil in the kitchen.

Types of basil for your garden

There are many species of basil, but almost all are used for medicinal and culinary purposes. They are suitable for growing in gardens, although it must be considered that they do not tolerate temperatures that are too low (below 0ºC).

They require loose, airy soils that do not retain too much moisture. However, they are ideal for any garden, as they require little care, take up almost no space and stay fresh for many months.

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