Ocimum is a genus of about 35 species of aromatic annual and perrenial herbs and shrubs in the family Lamiaceae, native to the tropical and warm temperate regions of the Old World.
Basil is a culinary herb of major importance; see that page for further details. Most culinary and ornamental basils are cultivars of the species Ocimum basilicum, but other species are also grown and there are many hybrids between species.
Ocimum tenuiflorum (Holy Basil) is a sacred herb in India but is not much used for culinary purposes there. Also known as Tulsi, the plant is worshipped as dear to Vishnu in some sects of Vaishnavism. A tea made from the leaves is used as a remedy for cold in India.
Ocimum basilicum - Basil (Ocimum basilicum), of the Family Lamiaceae. Basil is a tender low-growing herb that is grown as a perennial in warm, tropical climates. Basil is originally native to India and other tropical regions of Asia, having been cultivated there for more than 5,000 years. There are many varieties of basil, that which is used in Italian food is typically called sweet basil, as opposed to Thai basil or holy basil, which are used in Asia. It is prominently featured in Italian cuisine, and also plays a major role in the Southeast Asian cuisines of Thai, Vietnamese and Laotian. It grows to between 30–130 cm tall, with opposite, light green, silky leaves 3–11 cm long and 1–6 cm broad. The flowers are quite big, white in color and arranged in a terminal spike.
Basil is most commonly recommended to be used fresh; in cooked recipes it is generally added at the last moment, as cooking quickly destroys the flavour. The fresh herb can be kept for a short time in plastic bags in the refrigerator, or for a longer period in the freezer, after being blanched quickly in boiling water. The dried herb also loses most of its flavour, and what little flavour remains tastes very different, with a weak coumarin flavour, like hay.
Ocimum tenuiflorum (also known as Ocimum sanctum), is a well known aromatic plant in the family Lamiaceae. It is known across South Asia as a medicinal plant, and has an important role within many traditions of Hinduism, in which devotees perform worship involving Tulasi plants or leaves. Native to India, it is a short lived perennial herb or small shrub, often grown as an annual. The foliage is green or purple, strongly scented. Leaves have petioles, and are ovate, up to 5cm long, usually somewhat toothed. Flowers are white, tinged purple, borne in racemes.
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