Opal Basil

opalbasilOcimum basilicum

Also known as purple-leaf basil, is a variety of the more usual green basil. This variety has dark, purply-red leaves, stems and flowers and is often grown as a decorative garden plant. Like other varieties of basil, opal basil thrives in warm, sunny climates and can be damaged by frost. It needs a rich, damp soil and sheltered position.

Opal basil has the same distinctive clove like smell as green basil and grows into a small, bushy plant ideal for container growing. Encourage the plant to grow into a bushy shape by pinching out the growing tips.

    Uses: The oil of basil is extracted on a commercial basis and used in the perfume industry.

    Medicinal: Travel sickness can be prevented by drinking a cold infusion of basil leaves before beginning a journey.
    Using the theory of like attracts like, it was thought that if a basil leaf was applied to a poisonous bite or a bee or wasp sting, it would draw the poison to it. Basil seeds were also thought to be an antidote to snake poison and were taken internally and laid on the bite.

    Legends: In India basil is sacred to the gods Vishnu and Krishna and is cherished in Hindu homes.
    Old superstitions linked basil with scorpions and it was believed that if a sprig of basil was left under a flowerpot, it would turn into a scorpion.