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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

Ocimum 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] Its best known species are the cooking herb Cooking basil, O. basilicum and the medicinal herb Tulsi (holy basil) , O. tenuiflorum.

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.[3] 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.

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


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. ^ "Genus: Ocimum L.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2004-09-10. 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. The Smell Culture Reader. Berg Publishers. p. 230.