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Basil: A Summertime Favorite

Basil: A Summertime Favorite

Just the mention of the word basil makes my mouth water, as I conjour up images of zesty pesto, fresh caprese salad, hearty tomato sauce, and spicy green curry. What… curry? Yes, basil is as essential to many Asian and African cuisines as it is to the much publicized Italian culinary style. Actually these tropical cultures had been using this herb for thousands of years before its introduction to Europe. Basil is one of the finest herbs for our climate in Florida. While the more common “Sweet” or “Italian” basil does thrive during Florida’s cool and dry season it often succumbs to the high heat and humidity of our summers. Don’t fret, many types of basil are also adapted to a more tropical, humid climate similar to our local conditions. We call these the tropical basils. Some of these heat tolerant basils are cultivars of Ocimum basilicum while some are separate species or even species hybrids. These include “Tree Basil” Ocimum gratissimum, Ocimum tenuiflorum, Ocimum ‘Dark Opal’ x O. kilmandscharicum ‘African Blue’, Ocimum x citriodorum

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