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Ocimum basilicum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Subfamily: Nepetoideae
Tribe: Ocimeae
Genus: Ocimum

About 35 species, including:


Becium Lindl.
Erythrochlamys Gürke[1]

Ocimum is a genus of about 35 species of aromatic annual and perennial herbs and shrubs in the family Lamiaceae, mostly native to the tropical and warm temperate regions of the Old World. Its best known species is the cooking herb basil, O. basilicum.

Cultivation and uses[edit]

Most culinary and ornamental basils are cultivars of Ocimum basilicum and there are many hybrids between species. Thai basil (O. basilicum var. thyrsiflora) is a common ingredient in Thai cuisine, with a strong flavour similar to aniseed, used to flavour Thai curries and stir-fries. Amazonian basil (O. campechianum) is a South American variety often utilized in ayahuasca rituals for its smell which is said to help avoid bad visions.[2] Holy Basil or Tulsi (O. tenuiflorum) is a sacred herb in India, used in teas, healing remedies, and cosmetics. The plant is worshiped as dear to Vishnu in some sects of Vaishnavism. It is also used in Thai cooking. Lemon Basil (Ocimum × citriodorum) is a hybrid between O. americanum and O. basilicum. It is noted for its lemon flavour and used in cooking. O. centraliafricanum is valued as an indicator species for the presence of copper deposits.

Selected species[edit]


Formerly placed here[edit]


Ocimum species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Endoclita malabaricus.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Genus: Ocimum L.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2004-09-10. Retrieved 2014-01-03. 
  2. ^ Steele, John J. (2006). "Perfumeros and the Sacred Use of Fragrance in Amazonian Shamanism". In Jim Drobnick. The Smell Culture Reader. Berg Publishers. p. 230. 
  3. ^ a b "GRIN Species Records of Ocimum". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2014-01-03.