A rare and exotic basil

Although I started most of my own garden plants from seed this year, I could not help but purchase a few herb plants.  My weakness is basil.  Every year, I buy 5-6 new basil starts, and every year my old basil has reseeded so I have basil coming up everywhere, in addition to my new plants.  It is a vicious but delicious cycle.

This year was no different except that I kept my basil purchases down to three:  a lettuce leaf basil, a purple basil, and one new one—African Blue Basil.  I was intrigued by the name and also the label in the nursery stating it was “extremely rare.”   (I am a marketer’s dream.)

African Blue Basil

I have it planted in a pot on my kitchen step and the flowers are just now coming out.  I don’t know if you can see the blue hue in this picture or not.  (I have got to learn how to operate the “good” camera and quit using my phone!)

I was so anxious to use this rare and exotic basil in recipes.

Last week I was making more pesto to freeze and I picked some of this basil to use.  Thankfully, as I was washing all the leaves, I decided to taste some.  OMIGOSH!  I quickly picked out as much of the African Blue variety as I could.  To say it was bitter would not start to describe the taste.  Blech!

After googling it, I found out it is not as rare as I was led to believe.  It is actually an “accidental”  cross between dark opal and camphor basil.  Camphor—no wonder it tasted so awful.

Well it is pretty and and it is suppose to be drought tolerant so I guess I will keep it around.

One interesting note, I have started a few new plants from simple clippings left to root in water, so if you are interested in growing this plant, please do not pay $9 at the nursery.  Find a friend and take a clipping.

2 comments to A rare and exotic basil

  • I absolutely love basil, I bought loads of it at home Depot, and made a big planter with it. It’s delicious to go outside and cut some for my recipes….feels so Italian. Hahahaha! I’m sorry you got a bitter one. It’s good to know. I’ve learned that you have to take the flowers of or the leaves will be bitter. Have a great weekend.

    • Eliot

      I have tons of the tasty kind so I am still in the money when it comes to making great things with basil!