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Other Names

Ocimum basilicium / Ocimum tonuiflorum / Ocumum sanctum

French: basilic


The "royal" herb

From the Greek "basilikos," meaning royal

This small, minty aromatic plant grows in temperate countries. The silky lanceolate leaves are of a varyingly dark green, sometimes light reddish, 3 to 5 cm long.

A royal herb, long having sacred associations, basil was also part of the language of love. What, you may ask, could be more innocent than a pot of basil on a window sill? But beware: this was often a sign that the coast was clear for the lover to come and embrace his young lady without danger. For the lover who wished to become engaged without great fuss, he had only to offer a branch of basil to his beloved. By accepting it, she made an unspoken promise to love him and remain eternally faithful. Since Italian food is strongly flavored with basil, and in every kitchen and on every window sill sits a pot of basil, it seems they reversed the custom!



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