For ordinary people, basil is basil, and there is only one variety, but as with virtually all vegetables, there are many varieties. In this article we will see five of the most common varieties that you can find, each well differentiable from the other.
You are probably tired of reading about the excellent properties that basil has, sorry, it is repetitive, but I assure you that at least one of all the properties that we will see below you do not know (clarification: we will see both good and bad properties).
- It is good for the digestive system since it inhibits the effects that generate inflammation, which helps to digest food better.
- Thanks to its antibacterial properties, it helps the immune system, allowing a better response to attacks by viruses, bacteria or fungi.
- According to some studies, basil has certain antioxidants that protect cells from malignant agents like cancer.
- As for antioxidants, they are also good when it comes to helping lower cholesterol levels, allowing better blood circulation.
- It has properties that help reduce headaches, sore throats, earaches and other very common pains.
- There are certain studies that conclude that it favors healthy hair and at the same time prevents it from falling out.
- It is an excellent natural mosquito repellent.
- As it has anticoagulant properties, it should be consumed in moderation. It is also recommended that it is not consumed by children under the age of five.
- In the case of pregnant women, it is not recommended to consume basil, this due to certain components that may have carcinogenic effects for the fetus.
- An essential oil is released from this herb as a by-product, which is rich in estragole, somewhat toxic and favorable to cause cancer.
As you have seen, basil has many properties, both good and bad, and depending on your study, you may find some contradictions. In case you haven’t noticed at some point, I said it’s good at preventing cancer, and in the next one I emphasized that it has carcinogenic components. Personally I think it is like everything, you have to consume it, but not in excess.
If we take stock, you can see that the benefits are more than the damages, if we add to this that cultivating it is very simple (a little watering, pruning of its basil leaves and flowers, and a little care in the soil) make this herb an excellent choice for any garden.
The most popular varieties of basil
We have reached the most important point of the publication, let’s see how many of the varieties that I will list already knew.
Tulsi or holy basil
Basil whose scientific name is “Ocimum sanctum”, like the vast majority of varieties originate from the Asian continent, and is more popularly known by the name of Holy Basil.
The name tulsi is given by the Hindu Goddess of the same name, who is recognized as the Divine Mother on earth.
Today it is very well adapted to the summer of continental climates. And in India, it can even become perennial and even shrubby.
It has as many or more benefits than common basil.
This variety originated as a hybrid between the common basil and the Ocimum americanum species. With a scientific name of Ocimum × citriodorum, it does not exceed 40 cm in height and produces white flowers.
Its most notable feature is the strong lemon smell given off by its leaves, which makes it widely used in Arab, Persian and Thai cuisine.
Scientific name Ocimum basilicum var. Thyrsiflora, Thai basil is quite low, like lemon basil, and does not exceed 45 cm. It is also known as Queen Siam’s basil. As you can imagine, it is common in Thai cuisines, and also in nearby countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.
Since it does not resist the intense cold, it can only be grown outdoors in hot climates
Its cultivation abroad is only possible in very hot climates, where there is no possibility of frost, which they could not bear. It has very fine and small leaves, it has an aroma of cloves, mint and something citric. In addition, its flavor can be perfectly combined with peanuts, fish, spicy foods or even a dessert.
This is a common basil variety, and I personally have a hard time differentiating it. It has a bigger and more curved leaf. Its use is very widespread in Italy, if you have visited that country you may have consumed it in a pasta dish or on pizza.
You may have heard of this variety by the name of broad-leaved basil, and it is widely cultivated in Europe.
With the scientific name of Ocimum basilicum ‘Cinnamon’, this is probably one of the most particular varieties of basil. Although in the culinary and medicinal field for this variety the same considerations apply as common basil, this is the only one that has large amounts of cinnamate in its leaves, guilty of giving it the same cinnamon aroma.
It can reach 90 cm in height, with leaves similar to mint, but with a color that varies between green and purple. Like most varieties it is not good at resisting low temperatures.
With this we have reached the end of the article, I hope that it has helped you to know these five varieties and that it encourages you to start growing basil in your garden. 😊.