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Ocimum basilicum
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Subfamily: Nepetoideae
Tribe: Ocimeae
Genus: Ocimum
  • Becium Lindl.
  • Erythrochlamys Gürke
  • Hyperaspis Briq.
  • Nautochilus Bremek.

Ocimum /ˈɒsɪməm/ is a genus of aromatic annual and perennial herbs and shrubs in the family Lamiaceae, native to the tropical and warm temperate regions of all 6 inhabited continents, with the greatest number of species in Africa.[2] It is the genus of basil and the name is from the Ancient Greek word for basil, ὤκιμον (ṓkimon).[citation needed] Its best known species are the cooking herb great basil, O. basilicum, and the medicinal herb tulsi (holy basil), O. tenuiflorum.


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



Known Ocimum species include:[2]

  1. Ocimum americanum L. (tropical Africa), Indian Subcontinent, China, Southeast Asia; naturalized in Queensland, Christmas Island, and parts of tropical America
  2. Ocimum amicorum A.J.Paton - Tanzania
  3. Ocimum angustifolium Benth. - southeastern Africa from Kenya to Tranasvaal
  4. Ocimum basilicum L. – Basil, Sweet basil - China, Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia; naturalized in Russia, Ukraine, Africa, Mexico, Central America, South America, and various oceanic islands
  5. Ocimum burchellianum Benth. - Cape Province of South Africa
  6. Ocimum campechianum Mill. – Amazonian basil - widespread across Florida, Mexico, West Indies, Central and South America
  7. Ocimum canescens A.J.Paton - Tanzania
  8. Ocimum carnosum (Spreng.) Link & Otto ex Benth. - Mexico, South America
  9. Ocimum centraliafricanum R.E.Fr - Zaïre, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe
  10. Ocimum circinatum A.J.Paton - Ethiopia, Somalia
  11. Ocimum coddii (S.D.Williams & K.Balkwill) A.J.Paton - Northern Province of South Africa
  12. Ocimum cufodontii (Lanza) A.J.Paton - Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya
  13. Ocimum dambicola A.J.Paton - Tanzania, Zambia
  14. Ocimum decumbens Gürke - from Zaïre to South Africa
  15. Ocimum dhofarense (Sebald) A.J.Paton - Oman
  16. Ocimum dolomiticola A.J.Paton - Northern Province of South Africa
  17. Ocimum ellenbeckii Gürke - Ethiopia, Zaïre
  18. Ocimum empetroides (P.A.Duvign.) ined. - Zaïre
  19. Ocimum ericoides (P.A.Duvign. & Plancke) A.J.Paton - Zaïre
  20. Ocimum filamentosum Forssk. - eastern + southern Africa, Arabian Peninsula, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar
  21. Ocimum fimbriatum Briq. - central Africa
  22. Ocimum fischeri Gürke - Kenya, Tanzania
  23. Ocimum formosum Gürke - Bale Province of Ethiopia
  24. Ocimum forskolei Benth. - eastern Africa from Egypt to Kenya, Angola, Arabian Peninsula
  25. Ocimum fruticosum (Ryding) A.J.Paton - Somalia
  26. Ocimum grandiflorum Lam. - Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia
  27. Ocimum gratissimum L. – African basil - Africa, Madagascar, southern Asia, Bismarck Archipelago; naturalized in Polynesia, Mexico, Panama, West Indies, Brazil, Bolivia
  28. Ocimum hirsutissimum (P.A.Duvign.) A.J.Paton - Zaïre
  29. Ocimum irvinei J.K.Morton - West Africa
  30. Ocimum jamesii Sebald - Ethiopia, Somalia
  31. Ocimum kenyense Ayob. ex A.J.Paton - Kenya, Tanzania
  32. Ocimum kilimandscharicum Baker ex Gürke – Camphor basil - Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia; naturalized in Angola, India, Myanmar, Thailand
  33. Ocimum labiatum (N.E.Br.) A.J.Paton - Mozambique, South Africa, Eswatini
  34. Ocimum lamiifolium Hochst. ex Benth - eastern + central Africa
  35. Ocimum masaiense Ayob. ex A.J.Paton - Ngong Hills in Kenya
  36. Ocimum mearnsii (Ayob. ex Sebald) A.J.Paton - Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda
  37. Ocimum metallorum (P.A.Duvign.) A.J.Paton - Zaïre
  38. Ocimum minimum L. - India, Sri Lanka
  39. Ocimum minutiflorum (Sebald) A.J.Paton - eastern + central Africa
  40. Ocimum mitwabense (Ayob.) A.J.Paton - Zaïre
  41. Ocimum monocotyloides (Plancke ex Ayob.) A.J.Paton - Zaïre
  42. Ocimum motjaneanum McCallum & K.Balkwill - Eswatini
  43. Ocimum natalense Ayob. ex A.J.Paton - Mozambique, KwaZulu-Natal
  44. Ocimum nudicaule Benth. - Brazil, Paraguay, Misiones Province of Argentina
  45. Ocimum nummularia (S.Moore) A.J.Paton - Somalia
  46. Ocimum obovatum E.Mey. ex Benth. - tropical Africa, Madagascar
  47. Ocimum ovatum Benth. - Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina
  48. Ocimum pseudoserratum (M.R.Ashby) A.J.Paton - Northern Province of South Africa
  49. Ocimum pyramidatum (A.J.Paton) A.J.Paton - Tanzania
  50. Ocimum reclinatum (S.D.Williams & M.Balkwill) A.J.Paton - Mozambique, KwaZulu-Natal
  51. Ocimum serpyllifolium Forssk. - Somalia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia
  52. Ocimum serratum (Schltr.) A.J.Paton - South Africa, Eswatini
  53. Ocimum somaliense Briq. - Ethiopia
  54. Ocimum spectabile (Gürke) A.J.Paton - Ethiopia, Tanzania, Kenya, Somalia
  55. Ocimum spicatum Deflers - Ethiopia, Yemen, Kenya, Somalia
  56. Ocimum tenuiflorum L. – Holy basil, tulsi - China, Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, New Guinea, Queensland; naturalized in Kenya, Fiji, French Polynesia, West Indies, Venezuela
  57. Ocimum transamazonicum C.Pereira - Brazil
  58. Ocimum tubiforme (R.D.Good) A.J.Paton - Northern Province of South Africa
  59. Ocimum urundense Robyns & Lebrun - Burundi, Tanzania
  60. Ocimum vandenbrandei (P.A.Duvign. & Plancke ex Ayob.) A.J.Paton - Marungu Province in Zaïre
  61. Ocimum vanderystii (De Wild.) A.W.Hill. - Zaïre, Congo-Brazzaville, Angola, Zambia
  62. Ocimum viphyense A.J.Paton - Malawi, Zambia
  63. Ocimum waterbergense (S.D.Williams & K.Balkwill) A.J.Paton - Northern Province of South Africa


Formerly placed here[edit]

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.[citation needed] Lemon basil (Ocimum × citriodorum) is a hybrid between O. americanum and O. basilicum. It is noted for its lemon flavour and used in cooking.[citation needed]

Holy basil or tulsi (O. tenuiflorum) is a sacred herb revered as dear to Vishnu in some sects of Vaishnavism.[citation needed] Tulsi is used in teas, healing remedies, and cosmetics in India, and it is also used in Thai cooking.[citation needed] Amazonian basil (O. campechianum) is a South American species often utilized in ayahuasca rituals for its smell which is said to help avoid bad visions.[3] O. centraliafricanum is valued as an indicator species for the presence of copper deposits.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Genus: Ocimum L." Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2004-09-10. Archived from the original on 2014-01-03. Retrieved 2014-01-03.
  2. ^ a b c Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  3. ^ Steele, John J. (2006). "Perfumeros and the Sacred Use of Fragrance in Amazonian Shamanism". In Jim Drobnick (ed.). The Smell Culture Reader. Berg Publishers. p. 230.