Dark opal basil

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Ocimum basilicum 'Dark Opal'
Dark opal basil.jpg
A bunch of Dark opal basil leaves
SpeciesOcimum basilicum var. purpureum[1]
Cultivar'Dark Opal'
OriginJohn Scarchuk and Joseph Lent, University of Connecticut, 1950s

Dark opal basil is a cultivar of Ocimum basilicum (sweet basil), developed by John Scarchuk and Joseph Lent at the University of Connecticut[2] in the 1950s. With deep purple, sometimes mottled leaves, it is grown as much for its decorative appeal as for its culinary value. Dark opal basil was a 1962 winner of the All-American Selection award.[1][3]

Like other purple basils, the purple color is from anthocyanins, especially cyanidin-3-(di-p-coumarylglucoside)-5-glucoside but also other cyanidin based and peonidin based compounds. 'Dark opal', along with other large leaved purple cultivars such as 'Purple Ruffles', has a high concentration of anthocyanins and is considered a potential source of red pigments for the food industry. The anthocyanin concentration is about 18 mg per 100 g fresh leaves, similar to Perilla frutescens, and greater than smaller leaved purple basils such as 'Purple bush' (at about 6 mg per 100 g).[4]


  1. ^ a b "Basil 'Dark Opal' 1962, AAS Flower Award Winner".
  2. ^ "A Chronology of the University of Connecticut - Search Results". Archived from the original on 2014-08-19.
  3. ^ Jo Ann Gardner (2005). Herbs in Bloom: A Guide to Growing Herbs as Ornamental Plants. ISBN 978-0-88192-698-9., page 218
  4. ^ J. Janick (ed.), James E. Simon, Mario R. Morales, Winthrop B. Phippen, Roberto Fontes Vieira, and Zhigang Hao, "Basil: A Source of Aroma Compounds and a Popular Culinary and Ornamental Herb", reprinted from: Perspectives on new crops and new uses (1999), ASHS Press, Alexandria, VA, ISBN 978-0-9615027-0-6.

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