The Basil plant is a tender, leafy annual with a spicy and peppery flavor. It is
one of the most popular plants in herb gardening around the globe, with
its flavor and fragrance exciting many cuisines from Italy, Greece and Spain to Malaysia and Thailand. Ancient Civilization has also
been using this herb for thousands of years.
Now, how much did you know about
this magical plant?
- The Basil plant originates from Central Asia and Africa.
- Basil is part of the mint family, together with Rosemary, Lavender and Oregano.
- Sweet Basil has little white flowers, but other varieties such as Thai Basil has purple flowers.
- Thai Basil's name means "Won't be exchanged even with gold" in Chinese.
- Alexander the Great is believed to have brought Basil to the Greeks in 350BC.
- In Haiti, Basil is believed to be the protector of the people.
- Egyptians scattered Basil leaves on their resting places.
- Basil plant has been used as a token of love in some parts of Italy.
- Basil is a sacred plant in the Hindu religion.
- The Hindi would put a basil leaf on the chest of the dead as a passport to the paradise.
- The Greeks and Romans believed that Basil belongs to the devil - if Basil leaves are put in a pot, they will turn into scorpions.
- The Greeks and Romans also thought that Basil represents hate - if Basil is sweared on, it will grow better.
- Basil has been used to relieve gas pain and nausea.
- Basil is an annual plant, which means that it does not survive the next season unless the growing condition is very favorable.
- The center shoot of a Basil's seedling should be pinched to encourage side growth and early flowering.
- Basil's flowering buds are often pinched away to encourage better and more flavorful foliage.
- Unlike many herbs, the Basil plant actually prefers a steady water supply.
- Because of its strong flavor, Basil is normally pest-resistant. It can even help repel harmful insects for other adjacent plants.
- However, Basil can be quickly killed by frost, and slowly killed by mildews and fungal diseases.
- Basil should be transferred indoor in pots when the weather drops to the 40s (or
- Basil is not necessarily green in color - the Purple Basil has an interesting color of burgundy.
- Basil is extensively used in Indian food, as well as Southeast Asian food such as Thai and Malaysian.
- The best time to harvest Basil is when the plant is about to flower, because this is when the leaves are most concentrated with essential oil.
- Basil can be preserved either by drying or freezing.
- Basil leaves preserved in olive oil and can be kept up to 6 months. The flavored oil is excellent for pasta and salad dressing. Give it a try!