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Old June 25, 2014   #1
Hermitian
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Default African Basil

Below is a photo of an African Basil (Ocimum gratissimum) plant in a 17" pot. This plant is often sold in the western U.S. as African Blue Basil, but I will caution readers that the virus-induced variegated version has dissimilar properties.

The plant is perennial in USDA zone 10 and zone 9b areas with mild winters (i.e., only a few minor trips below freezing for a few hours). In Europe and in the eastern U.S. the plant is sometimes sold as clove basil, an appropriate name because the leaves are very pungent compared to the mild Italian Basil -- in my estimation about 1/10th the volume of fresh African Basil are equivalent to 1 volume of Italian Basil. For dishes that demand a strong basil flavor it is a must. Commercially it is the source of Basil Oil.

Another feature of this plant is that it flowers incessantly. This is only interrupted by winter temperatures in zones 9b and 10a, in which the plant might defoliate. Otherwise it is in constant bloom and bees are present from pre-dawn through twilight. If you are growing fruit trees in zone 9b+, then it is one of several ways to insure that bees are always coming to your orchard.

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Old June 26, 2014   #2
Zana
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Beautiful. I love basil. Period. Have probably grown close to 20+ so far...and have the seeds for more that I'll be planting this weekend.

I'm going to go looking for seeds now after reading your description. Thanks for the tip.
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Old June 26, 2014   #3
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Thanks for sharing this with us.

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Old June 26, 2014   #4
ChristinaJo
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Is this the basil that you have to propagate by cuttings,because the seeds are sterile?
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Old June 26, 2014   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristinaJo View Post
Is this the basil that you have to propagate by cuttings,because the seeds are sterile?
The seeds are fertile. It can interbreed with other Ocimum so breeding in isolation is recommended. Further, it is easy and faster to grow from cuttings.
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Last edited by Hermitian; June 26, 2014 at 10:09 PM. Reason: Spelling
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Old June 26, 2014   #6
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African Camphor Basil is not sterile. African Blue Basil which is a hybrid of Dark Opal and African Camphor does not produce fertile seed. It is quite easy to grow all basils from cuttings.
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Old June 26, 2014   #7
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Clove Basil is not sterile and seeds are available out there.
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Old June 28, 2014   #8
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O.K. Thanks.
I was thinking of the Opal and Camphor hybrid.
Interesting.... I do need more bee pollinators in my area. Thank you for the information

Last edited by ChristinaJo; June 29, 2014 at 10:12 AM.
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