Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sweet Basil

 Sweet Basil, Balanoy/Solasi, Kalu-ui, Ocimum basilicum, Albahaca, Hung que

I have this habit of pinching leaves and smelling them when I pass by a plant.  I was walking my dog on Christmas weekend and I pinched a leaf of this flower---and was delighted at the familiar aroma.  It brought back memories of my grandmother, of childhood.  I presented a leaf to my brother and asked him if he remembers the scent.  Of course, he said, this is kalu-ui!   Our grandmother called this plant "kalu-ui" and she made us drink a decoction of this herb when we had a cough.  I didn't know kalu-ui was the same sweet basil I buy from the supermarket for my pesto sauce and a relative of the Thai basil I love in Vietnamese pho.  

Ocimum belongs to the family Lamiaceae with about 60-150 species of aromatic annual and perennial herbs and shrubs.  It ranks high in herbs with medicinal use.  These plants, as well as oils from them, have received lots of attention for their potential medicinal properties. Bolanoy and Solasi are shared common names of the two common varieties of Ocimum in the Philippines---Ocimum basilicum and Ocimum sanctum.  Of these plants, O. basilicum is the most widely used.   It is used in food, cosmetics, liqueurs, medicines, and perfumes.  O. sanctum is not used in cooking.

More about sweet basil here.

Basil is a native of Africa and Asia. Tradition has it that basil was found growing around Christ's tomb after the Resurrection, and consequently, some Greek Orthodox churches use it to prepare holy water and pots of basil are set below church altars. In India, basil was believed to be imbued with a divine essence, and oaths were sworn upon it in courts. A number of varieties exist today, ranging from a tiny-leafed Greek basil to robust 2-foot-high plants with large succulent leaves. Some varieties have deep purple leaves. While flowers are typically small and whitish, some can be pink to brilliant magenta. Leaves can be dried for later use. Basil is extremely frost sensitive.  Source

The sense of smell can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back pictures as sharp as photographs of scenes that had left the conscious mind.

 


12 comments:

NatureFootstep said...

gorgeous plant and nice herb. :) Glad you remembered your grandma. :)

Hanne Bente said...

Nice pictures you show. Wish you a good weekend :) Hanne Bente

Liz said...

I can almost smell them.

Liz @ MLC

Gunilla Bäck said...

Lovely!

Self Sagacity said...

Man! I wish my basil would grow like that! I would love to have at least a couple stalks!

CameraCruise said...

Great post!
Glad the herb brought back good memories of your grandmother.

Carver said...

Beautiful shots of the basil. I like basil on tomatoes.

Modern Mom said...

Great shots. Hope you'll find time to visit my Periwinkle flower.

Marie said...

How delightful to come across an "old friend" I love our varieties of basil also.

DeniseinVA said...

Fantastic Luna, I also love sweet basil but sometimes forget how pretty an herb it is. Thank you for reminding me.

SandyCarlson said...

This herb has lovely flowers.

Halcyon said...

Hope it tastes as nice as it looks!