Basil (Ocimum basilicum), of the family Lamiaceae (mints), is a tender low-growing herb. Basil is originally native to Iran, India and other tropical regions of Asia, having been cultivated there for more than 5,000 year.
Basil is commonly used fresh in cooked recipes. It is generally added at the last moment, as cooking quickly destroys the flavour.
There are many varieties of Ocimum basilicum, as well as several related species or species hybrids that are also called basil. The type used in Italian food is typically called sweet basil, as opposed to Thai basil (O. basilicum var. thyrsiflora), lemon basil (O. basilicum citriodorum) and holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum), which are used in Asia / India.
Medicinal uses :
Basil is traditionally used for supplementary treatment of stress, asthma and diabetes in India.
Depending on the species and cultivar, the leaves may taste somewhat like anise, with a strong, pungent, often sweet smell.
Holy basil or tulsi as it is called in India, has a lightly lemon scent.
Cinnamon basil has a distinct cinnamon aroma.
The camphor basil (O. kilimanscharicum) is not used in cooking, but its distinctive camphorous aroma makes it a pleasant decorative herb to have in the garden.
Other names :