Mother Earth Living

Fresh From the Garden: 10 Types of Basil

By Kris Wetherbee
June/July 2008
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Photo by Rick Wetherbee


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'African Blue' Dramatic purple-streaked leaves, pink to purple flowers and a warm camphor scent make this tall variety a stand out in the garden and in bouquets.

'Cinnamon' Attractive landscape plant with purple stems and flowers and a distinctive cinnamon taste and scent. Best in fruit salads, herbal teas and Mediterranean dishes.

'Genovese' Classic large-leaf Italian type with highly aromatic leaves and spicy flavor. Excellent for fresh or frozen use and one of the best for pesto.

'Holy Basil' Also known as ‘Sacred’ basil or tulsi (O. sanctum). Stunning in the landscape and very aromatic, with clove-scented leaves. Best used as a salad garnish or in herbal teas.

'Italian Large Leaf' Excellent Italian type is extremely productive; large green leaves are slightly sweeter than those of other basils. A favorite for cooking.

'Lemon' Compact plant has smaller leaves than other types and a strong lemony scent. The strains ‘Mrs. Burns’ and ‘Sweet Dani’ have slightly larger leaves better suited to cooking. Great for fish, chicken, vegetable and fruit dishes, or use to accent soups, salads and desserts. Makes a tasty, lemony pesto.

'Mammoth' Extra-large, slightly puckered leaves can be used in cooking to wrap other ingredients, or like lettuce in sandwiches; also great in salads and pesto.

'Red Rubin' An improved form of ‘Dark Opal’ with the largest leaves of purple basils. Very ornamental in the garden; fragrant and flavorful. Purple-bronze leaves make a unique-colored pesto and a pretty vinegar.

'Siam Queen' The best of the Thai-type basils; licorice aroma and flavor are especially good in fish and beef dishes. Wonderful in curries and Thai cuisine.

'Spicy Globe' Ideal for pots, window boxes or a miniature basil hedge. Compact plants grow just 10 inches tall with small leaves and a rounded form. 


A frequent contributor to The Herb Companion, Kris Wetherbee gardens, cooks and writes in the hills of western Oregon.

Click here for the original article,  Fresh From the Garden: How to Use Basil .








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