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Ocimum basilicum
Scientific classification Edit this classification
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 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]


The genus was first published by Carl Linnaeus in his book Species Plantarum on page 597 in 1753.[3]

The genus name of Ocimum is derived from the Ancient Greek word for basil, ὤκιμον (ṓkimon).[4]


Accepted Ocimum species by Plants of the World Online,[3] and World Flora Online;[5]


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.[6] 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 Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  3. ^ a b "Ocimum L. | Plants of the World Online | Kew Science". Plants of the World Online. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
  4. ^ "Basil - Ocimum basilicum | Washington College". www.washcoll.edu. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
  5. ^ "Ocimum L." worldfloraonline.org. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
  6. ^ 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.