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.