Herb to Know: Green Pepper Basil

Learn how to use green pepper basil in the kitchen and tips to grow it in your garden.



  • Jim Long

Genus: Ocimum selloi

• Hardy to Zone 9

More than two dozen varieties of basil grow in Madalene Hill’s Round Top, Texas patio garden. Among them, one of the real standouts is green pepper basil, a remarkable old herb with centuries of use in various cultures. Ocimum selloi is becoming increasingly popular now in the United States, with a distinctive flavor that is just as its name implies—a combination of green pepper and basil. Its deep-green leaves are considerably longer than those of other basils, making it more closely resemble a pepper plant. This unusual plant has a milder, more complex flavor than most of its cousins.

O. selloi was first collected near Chiapas, Mexico, by botanist Dennis E. Breedlove, curator emeritus of the California Academy of Sciences. The area is well known for producing an array of fascinating edible plants, including several varieties of chilhuacle peppers.



Art Tucker, Ph.D., of Delaware State University, who has done a preliminary analysis on green pepper basil, reports smelling the green pepper pyrazines in the plant but says he has not completely isolated the chemicals. He said, “My nose smells the green pepper pyrazines so they’re probably there, but I can’t report a level yet.”

Basil essential oils traditionally have been used to kill or repel insects, to flavor foods, in fragrances, in folk medicine and as condiments. In Brazil, O. selloi has been used to treat stomachaches and as an anti-inflammatory remedy. A 2003 study conducted at the State University of Ponta Grossa in Brazil found green pepper basil’s oil to be an effective mosquito repellent that wasn’t irritating to human skin.



Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Get the latest on Natural Health and Sustainable Living with Mother Earth News!

Mother Earth News

Your friends at Mother Earth Living are committed to natural health and sustainable living. Unfortunately, the financial impact of COVID-19 has challenged us to find a more economical way to achieve this mission. We welcome you to our sister publication Mother Earth News. What you sought in the pages of Mother Earth Living can be found in Mother Earth News. For over 50 years, “The Original Guide to Living Wisely” has focused on organic gardening, herbal medicine, real food recipes, and sustainability. We look forward to going on this new journey with you and providing solutions for better health and self-sufficiency.

The impact of this crisis has no doubt affected every aspect of our daily lives. We will strive to be a useful and inspiring resource during this critical time and for years to come.

Best wishes,
Your friends at Mother Earth Living and Mother Earth News

Save Money & a Few Trees!

By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of Mother Earth News for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Classifieds