Basil (Ocimum basilicum) (pronounced /ˈbæzəl/ or /ˈbeɪzəl/), of the family Lamiaceae (mints), is a tender low-growing herb. Basil is a culinary herb prominently featured in Italian cuisine, and also plays a major role in the Southeast Asian cuisines of Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Depending on the species and cultivar, the leaves may taste somewhat like anise, with a strong, pungent, often sweet smell.
Food features:Basil grows to between 30–130 cm tall, with opposite, light green, silky leaves 3–11 cm long and 1–6 cm broad. The flowers are small, white in color and arranged in a terminal spike. Unusual among Lamiaceae, the four stamens and the pistil are not pushed under the upper lip of the corolla, but lay over the inferior. After entomophilous pollination, the corolla falls off and four round achenes develop inside the bilabiate calyx.
Place of origin:Basil is originally native to Iran, India and other tropical regions of Asia, having been cultivated there for more than 5,000 years
Dietotherapy function:Recently, there has been much research into the health benefits conferred by the essential oils found in basil. Scientific studies have established that compounds in basil oil have potent antioxidant, anti-cancer, antiviral, and anti-microbial properties.