Ocimum basilicum L.
Family - Lamiaceae
Stems - To .75m tall, 4-angled, glabrous or sparsely hairy, branching, herbaceous, strongly aromatic.
Leaves - Opposite, petiolate, glabrous, entire or with a few coarse teeth, lanceolate, lanceolate-ovate or ovate.
Inflorescence - Terminal clusters of whorled flowers (vertcilillasters).
Flowers - Corolla white, bilabiate, to 1cm long. Stamens exerted beyond corolla. Calyx 5-lobed, upper lobe expanded into a lid or cap over others.
Flowering - July - October.
Habitat - Cultivated but occasionally escaped to waste ground.
Origin - Native to Asia and Africa.
Other info. - There are many different varieties of basil in cultivation. All are delicious. This species is often planted in gardens along with tomatoes, Lycopersicon esculentum, and the two are essential in good Italian sauces. My parents had basil growing year-round to cook with. It is such an easy plant to grow that no one should have to be without fresh basil. The dried stuff is sacrilege.
Photographs taken in Gainesville, FL., 6-19-02.