African Blue Basil


The African Blue Basil is a perennial and is one of the most cold telerant breeds of basil. It is a hybrid of two other breeds of basil and is propagated by cuttings.


Translations: Āfrikas Blue Basil, Afrikos Blue Basil, Albastru african Vasile, Afrička Blue Basil, Phi Blue Basil, Blue Afryki Basil, अफ्रीकी ब्लू तुलसी, Basil Blue Africano, Африканский Blue Василия, Αφρικανική Blue Βασίλειος, الزرقاء باسل الأفريقية, 아프리카 블루 바질, Africké Blue Basil, Afrika Blue Basil, 非洲蓝罗勒, Basilio Blau Àfrica, Afriška Blue Basil, Africké Blue Basil, African Basilio Blue, בזיל כחול אפריקה, Афрички Плава Василије, アフリカブルーバジル, Africaine Basil Blue, African Blue Basilikum, Afrikanske Blue Basil, Afrikansk Blue Basil, Basilio Azul África, Африканський Blue Василя, Afrikkalainen sininen Basil, Африка Blue Василий

Physical Description

It is a decorative plant, which, if allowed to bloom, is covered with long flower stems of purple buds that open to lavender flowers. The 1- to 2 1/2-inch long leaves are a slightly grayed green with purple speckles on their undersides. The plant grows 1 1/2 to 2 feet tall when pinched to harvest, but would grow taller unpinched, and is much bushier than regular basil varieties.Its texture is also a surprise to most people who are used to sweet basil. While most basils have a very smooth leaf, African blue basil is fuzzy and almost rough, something you can also taste when it is added to a dish.

Selecting and Buying

Choosing: When you get your young plant, you should at first pinch out its center stem. If it is very small, wait until the plant has at least 4 pairs of leaves, and pinch off the top set. Or, if the plant is already blooming, pinch out the center flower head and a couple of leaves beneath it as well as any side flower heads more than an inch long. If you plan to grow the plant as an ornamental, pinch new stem tips once or twice more as they grow, then let the plant bloom.
Procuring: Plant African blue basil in spring to midsummer in a sunny spot that is as protected as possible from cold winds. Be sure it has well- amended, fertile soil and that you can keep the soil moist. It will do well in a container, but to avoid stunting the plant, use one that is 10 to 12 inches across the top.

Preparation and Use

The flowers, leaves and young stems are edible. Some sources report that the flavor is too camphory, but everyone who has tried mine so far thinks it has a rich, mellow flavor. Finely chopped basil is a classic ingredient of pesto sauce and is delicious seasoning for soups, salads and dishes containing tomato, summer or winter squash, green beans, chicken, fish or red meats.


African blue basil (Ocimum kilimandscharicum x basilicum 'Dark Opal') is an accidental hybrid between an East African basil and a garden variety basil called 'Dark Opal.' The African parent is a perennial shrub from forests of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, valued for its camphor scent.

History: African blue basil was first seen in 1983 when Peter Borchard, owner of Companion Plants in Athens, Ohio, noticed it growing in the path between beds of the two presumed parents. The green-leaved East African basil parent grows to 6 feet tall in his garden. 'Dark Opal' is a small plant with deep purple leaves and a typical Italian basil flavor. Borchard dug the hybrid and brought it into the greenhouse, hoping to save seed, but the cross between the two species seems to be too far a stretch, because no seed formed. Borchard grew more plants from cuttings, and by cuttings has African blue basil entered the herb market.



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