Ocimum basilicum L.

Sub-Family: Not available
English Name: Sweet basil
Synonym: Ocimum basilicum var.purpurascensBenth
Common Name: Kattuthrithavu, Tirunetru, Common basil
Flowering & Fruiting Period: Throughout the year
Distribution: Paleotropics
Habitat: Dry deciduous forests, also in the plains; often cultivated
Uses: Leaves and flowers edible - raw or cooked and used as flavouring agent. A refreshing tea is made from the leaves. 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. he leaves and flowering tops are antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, digestive, galactagogue, stomachic and tonic. The root is used in the treatment of bowel complaints in children. Extracts from the plant are bactericidal and are also effective against internal parasites. An essential oil obtained from the whole plant is used as a food flavouring and in perfumery, dental applications etc. The growing or dried plant is an effective insect repellent.
Key Characteristics: Erect annual herbs; stem obtusely 4-angular. Leaves ovate-elliptic, base cuneate, margin entire to distantly crenulate. Racemes to 14 cm long; bracts oblanceolate, ciliate. Calyx to 6 mm long; sparsely strigose; upper lip c. 3 mm long, broadly ovate; lower lip to 4 mm long, hairy within. Corolla cream; lobes 5. Stamens 4; filaments of posterior pair with a transverse process of tufted hairs. Nutlets ellipsoid, black.