Fragrant basil: description and photo of the plant. What can be replaced?

 Fragrant basil: description and photo of the plant. What can be replaced?

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Basil has been used in cooking and folk medicine since the dawn of civilization in the areas where this plant grows. As a result, many legends and beliefs have formed around this plant, and in almost every fifth dish, the use of basil as a seasoning is considered mandatory (in the countries where it grows).

Therefore, in this article, we have accumulated all the available information about the basil and its characteristics, so that even the most curious user would know everything about the plant, including how it is called differently and where it grows. You will understand - an annual or perennial is bush garden greens, what it is for and what can be used instead. See in the photo what the bush looks like.

What is it: definition and second name

Perennial or not a bush and what else is it called? Fragrant basil, which has another name - Basil ordinary, Basil garden / camphor and regan - an annual herb. It is herbaceous: this means that it is wrong to call the plant a bush (summer residents often incorrectly call basil).

An “annual” plant means that the duration of maturation, flowering and death of the grass takes one growing season, that is, approximately one calendar year. Basil is classified as Basil (Ocimum) subfamily Nepetoideae of the Lamiaceae family.

Is it cilantro, thyme, parsley, vegetable, or indoor flower?

Basil is often confused with parsley, and especially with thyme, since these are related plants (and thyme does belong to the same family of luciferous plants), in fact, these are completely different plants, and it is not entirely correct to confuse their names. With mint and lemon balm, it is slightly similar in appearance and very similar in aroma, however, these are completely different plants, also belonging to different species. Moreover, it is not a vegetable.

Basil is bred all over the world as a home ("kitchen") spice. In Latin, the plant is called Ocīmum basilīicum, in English simply Basil.

Read more about the differences between cilantro and basil, as well as the beneficial properties and uses of herbs, read here.

What does it look like, what is the root system?

The root of the basil is right at the surface of the earth., the character of the root is branching, slightly fibrous. Almost the entire mass of basil roots penetrates the soil so shallowly that it is entirely in the arable layer.

The stem of the regan is firm, straight and tetrahedral. It, like the root, branches considerably, especially before the period of flowering of the grass. There is a lot of foliage on the stem, and this plant can stretch 50-70 cm in height (the average value is kept at the level of 40 centimeters).

The contours of the leaves are similar in shape to elongated eggs, the petiole of the leaves is short, the entire upper part of the plant, including the stem, calyx and leaves, is covered with fine hairs. The leaves and stem have a deep green color, but as a result of mutations harmless to the body and plant, a dark purple color is possible.

During the flowering period, basil blooms two-lipped, faded and unsaturated flowers - as a rule, from white to pale purple or pale pink. Flowers bloom from the axils of the apical leaves and bracts in irregular whorls.

Ocīmum basilīicum fruit, commonly used as a spice, includes four dark brown nuts, separated from each other from the moment of ripening. The mass of one thousand seeds is very small, from 0.5 grams to 0.8 grams; they can be planted for four to five years, after which they lose their germination (the moisture contained in the seeds has completely evaporated by this time).

Photo of the leaves of the plant in the garden

Further in the photos you will see how fragrant basil looks on the garden:

What smells?

The smell inherent in basil seeds strongly depends on the type of plant and how it is stored - dried or fresh.

By itself rich aroma appears as a result of the production of essential oils - the smell spread by the plant depends on their combination in different proportions.

The most common variety of basil, which almost every summer resident grows in his garden no-no, has a clove aroma - sharp, at the same time bitter and at the same time sweet.

therefore Basil scent is often confused with clove, oregano and thyme scent... However, some varieties of this plant smell more like something lemon or lime, some give off anise, pepper, and so on. It all depends only on what variety the summer resident grows in the garden and in what form he keeps Ocimum basilīicum.

Description of the origin story

It is very characteristic that the translation of the Latin name of the regan into Russian looks like "a fragrance worthy of a king" - this is not surprising, since basil is known to the cultures of many countries, especially the southern ones. In addition, it is no coincidence that the king is mentioned: the first mention of the basilica dates back to the period before the birth of Christ, and then seasonings - including basil - cost really huge money.

For example, the Visigoth king Alaric I, having victoriously finished several battles with the Romans, demanded from them in 408 AD not only a tribute of 5,000 pounds of gold, but also 3,000 pounds of pepper; though in Europe, regan began to be cultivated from the moment the Macedonian Empire was founded (the military who returned from the Asian campaigns brought with them a maximum of valuable, including outlandish seeds and plants), it was not widespread.

Only the aristocracy had the right to freely use the grown basil, and merchants had to buy it for huge money: basil, pepper and most of the other popular spices were imported from India, while the journey was long and very dangerous due to pirates and storms. Based on this, we can conclude that basil was then worth a lot of money.


Scientists suggest that sub-Saharan Africa became the birthplace of the regan: its humid and hot climate was ideal for the emergence of a new species of plant. As of 2018 basil is cultivated in almost all countries of the worldHowever, in the wild or feral state, basil can be found only in southern Asia and the tropical zone of America.

Basil was brought to Russia by the time of the reign of Peter I, when a fashion for everything new and foreign appeared in the empire. The plant itself was popular almost only as a medicinal and ornamental plant, and only in the next turn as a seasoning.

Is it regan or oregano?

Basil is exactly the reganum. Confusion arises because oregano and regan are very similar in shape and taste - as a result, many summer residents believe that we are talking about the same plant.

Actually the similarity of plants is explained by belonging to the same family of Yasnotkovy, however, the species in plants are different. Not only aroma, taste and appearance differ, but even the countries in which these two plants grow.

Oregano is ubiquitous in Italy, Greece, France and Spain, in the same countries the use of oregano is mandatory in the preparation of many national dishes; in turn, the regan - aka Common Basil - is widespread and used primarily in Central and South Asia, as well as in the Transcaucasus.

Learn more about the differences between basil, oregano and oregano here.

Benefit and harm: chemical composition

The chemical composition of the plant is really diverse: basil contains rutin, phytoncides, vitamins C, PP, B2, A, as well as a large number of essential oils with different molecular formulas - they occupy about 1.5% of the total composition of the plant.

It is essential oils that determine the pleasant fragrant smell of the plant; in addition, the substances contained in essential oils - methyl-cavikol, estragol and eugenol - help to strengthen the immune system, stimulate the development of intelligence and rejuvenate the body.

Basil has much more benefits than harm:

  • Significantly strengthens the immune system, has antifungal, bactericidal and antiviral properties.
  • If you make a decoction from a plant, it is able to quickly eliminate bad breath, stop tooth decay by caries, generally strengthens the gums and has antipyretic and antiseptic effects.
  • Improves sleep, lowers cholesterol in the body.

Damage from basil has more to do with contraindications than actual harm:

  • If a person had problems with blood clotting, had a heart attack, coronary artery disease, thrombosis, epilepsy or other diseases directly related to the cardiovascular system, central nervous system and blood condition, the use of basil is contraindicated.
  • Basil contains mercury compounds that are absolutely safe in small quantities, but very dangerous if a person completely loses measure and begins to consume basil in large quantities.

Learn more about the benefits and dangers of basil here.

How many species and varieties are there?

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, distinguish a total of 69 types of basilicas. The species differ primarily in the content of chemicals, but they also have a different appearance: the height of the grass in different species can vary from ten to seventy centimeters, the leaves are of different shapes, colors and relief.

At the moment fragrant (ordinary), lemon, purple and cinnamon basil are very popular among summer residents... Depending on the traditions and culture in different countries, some species are preferred more than others: for example, in Italy, all other species are overshadowed by oregano, and in Russia - by common basil.


For outdoor cultivation, you will need an open sunny area with low humidity and a fertile soil layer. Otherwise, the plant will grow extremely slowly, and if it gets sick, it will die very quickly.

Learn more about growing basil here.

Planting with seeds and seedlings, methods of care

Basil cannot tolerate frost or even a slight drop in temperature., therefore, it is necessary to plant a plant in the northern or central regions of Russia only in June, in the south it is permissible to start planting in May. For each square meter of basil, it is advisable to add 2 kg of humus, compost and peat to the soil.

  1. If the summer resident wants to plant seedlings, the distance between the beds should be about 30 centimeters, and between the plants themselves - about 15-20 cm.
  2. Immediately after planting, the seedlings must be watered abundantly, and with settled and warm water.

If seeds are planted, the distance between the beds should be taken a little more, since the seeds can sprout unexpectedly, water with the same water, but less abundantly when compared with seedlings.

How to deal with pests and diseases?

For a successful fight you need:

  1. Do not plant basil in the same place several times - like other plants, in this case, basil can easily get sick with fusarium.
  2. It is necessary to regularly remove weeds, after which water the basil abundantly - it is advisable to do this about 7 times during the growing season.
  3. When signs of illness or harm from insects appear, you need to buy insecticides or special fertilizers as soon as possible - then the crop can be saved even before it completely dies.

Features of growing at home

If a person wants to grow basil at home, the plant must be placed in a very warm and sunny place (regardless of whether it is a perennial or an annual) - as a rule, a window sill is best suited for these purposes. Moreover, the temperature should be about 25 degrees Celsius, therefore, even the fact of growing at home does not guarantee high-quality growth of basil - this temperature can be provided both by planting exclusively in summer periods, and by heating with the help of special devices.

Finally, the plant must be constantly sprayed and watered: at home it is almost always quite dry, but for basil this is an unfavorable factor.

How to store, can it dry?

As with any herb, keep fresh basil in the refrigerator. Before this, it is advisable to wrap the bundle with cling film or put it in water, after cutting off the stems.

Basil is used as a seasoning in dried form., from which it immediately becomes clear - it can be dried. The process begins with a wash of the beam; Once the bundles are dry, they should be hung with their leaves down in a well-ventilated area, while indoors it is necessary to minimize humidity and sunshine.

We talked more about the correct storage of basil in this article.

What can be replaced?

Basil has a very specific aroma and taste, and therefore it is quite problematic to replace it. Replacement will only allow bringing the result closer to the desired one, but not at all achieving exactly the flavor combination that is obtained with Ordinary Basil.

When, if, nevertheless, this plant is not at hand, but you need to cook, oregano, thyme and marjoram will do... All these plants are similar to basil in taste, and oregano is even very similar in appearance, but they belong to different biological species.

What to plant next to?

Basil gets along well with beans (peas, beans, etc.), peppers, fennel, cucumbers, corn and zucchini, tomatoes, onions, as well as lettuce and head lettuce. However, if you plant basil next to other herbs very similar to it, growth will be slowed in both plants. Planting basil next to thyme, marjoram and dill is strictly prohibited, otherwise no harvest will be seen even in the hottest summer.

What next to you can plant basil, we talked about in a separate article.

What grass does it look like?


Green basil is extremely similar to oregano, which we have already mentioned. The similarity concerns not only an amazing coincidence in external form (even a relatively experienced gardener will not always be able to determine what is in front of him - oregano or regan), but also taste and aromatic qualities.

However, there are still differences: the smell of oregano gives off more pepper, while the aroma of basil is more lemon, and only in some cases a clove smell is obtained; in addition, oregano leaves are more concave inward when compared to basil leaves.


Purple basil is sometimes very difficult to distinguish from Perilla. Both plants are of the same height, the shape of the leaves is quite similar, the stems of the plant are approximately the same color.

As in the case of Oregano and Regan, Perilla and purple basil belong to the same family of Lamiaceae, which explains the incredible similarity between these plants.

The differences are noticeable, first of all, in the leaves: in Perilla, they are more prominent ("cut"), and are also covered with a large number of denticles along the edges of the leaf; in addition, perilla seeds, unlike basil seeds, do not become slippery and do not stick together if a small amount of water gets on them.

Interesting Facts

Basil can be called one of the most "superstitious" plants in the world.... Creepy stories from Boccaccio are associated with him: in one of them, a girl sobbed into a pot of basil, in which the severed head of her lover was buried. In southern countries, the superstition is still widespread that if you forget a basil leaf under an inverted plate, after a while it will turn into a poisonous scorpion.

In addition, basil has a symbolic meaning: in the Italian Republic, since antiquity, basil has been considered a symbol of loyalty of spouses, while in Romania, a basil stalk accepted as a gift meant consent to the engagement. In the countries of America, there are also symbols associated with basil: in Mexico they think that the basil leaf will save you from treason, and in Haiti the leaf is used as a great amulet against all troubles.

And, of course, how can you not remember that basil goes well with tomatoes... When preparing insanely delicious "pesto" Italians use basil without fail, as without it the dish completely loses its original and rich taste.

Basil has not only culinary / medicinal but also cultural significance. In addition, growing this plant is quite simple, so novice summer residents can get their first gardening skills with the help of a regan. For these reasons, direct acquaintance with basil is almost mandatory for all gardeners. In addition, the aroma and taste of the plant is always positively impressive if the regan is grown correctly.

Watch the video: How To Care Sweet Basil Plant. Marua. Marwa. Marjoram. Niazbo Plant. Grow Sweet Basil. Marua (August 2022).