Aromatic Plants

Basil (Ocimum basilicum)


  • Basil, an erect glabrous herb 45 - 90 cm high, native of North - West India and Persia, is an annual of the Lamiaceae family.
  • In India, there is a wide spread belief that if planted around homes and temples, it ensures happiness.
  • It is indigenous to the lower hills of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh and is cultivated throughout India.
  • It is now cultivated in Southern France and other Mediterranean countries and also U.S.A.
  • The plant is very variable and its botanical nomenclature is complicated; several designations have often been assigned to one or the same type. Polymorphism and cross-pollination under cultivation have given rise to a number of sub-species, varieties and races.
  • Thus, some forms and types have been confused with other species.


  • The main varieties of basil are -

    1.    O.basilicum
    2.    O. gratissimum
    3.    O. americanum
    4.    O. kilimandscharicum
    5.    O. sanctum

  • Of the above species O. basilicum alone is cultivated in India on commercial scale.


European type

  • Distilled from O. basilicum grown in Europe and America and commonly known as oil of Sweet Basil. Its major cinstituent is methyl chavicol and linalool, but no camphor. It is highly prized for its fine odour.

Reunion type

  • Distilled originally in Reunion Islands. The oil contains methyl chavicol and camphor but no linalool.
  • It possesses a camphorraceous by-note and is considered inferior to the European oil.

Methyl cinnamate type

  • Distilled in Bulgaria, Sicily, Egypt, India and Haiti. It contains methyl chavicol, linolool and substantial amount of methyl cinnamate but no camphor.

Eugenol type

  • Distilled in Java, Seychelles, Samoa and the Commonwealth of Independent States (esrtwhile USSR). It contains eugenol as the main constituent.


  • Crop is propagated through seeds by raising nursery. About 125 g viable seeds are required for one hectare (1000 seed weigh a little over 1 g).
  • The seed germination starts 3 days after sowing and is practically over in about 10 days. The seedlings are ready for planting after 4 - 6 weeks of sowing.


  • The land is prepared to good tilth by ploughing, harrowing and levelling. 10 tonnes of well rotten FYM, 100 kg DAP and 100 kg muriate of potash per hectare are applied in the of basal dose.
  • The seedlings are planted at a spacing of 60 cm between the rows and 40 cm between the plants in April - May or August - September.
  • The field is irrigated on alternate days until plants establish, thereafter the crop is irrigated at 5 - 7 day intervals during non-rainy periods.

Interculture - Fertilizers

  • The field is kept free of weeds during the initial stages of crop growth and after first harvest by manual weedings.
  • The crop is fertilized thrice with 50 kg urea per hecater each time. First time of transplanting, then one and two months after transplating. 25 - 50 kg zinc sulphate per hectare is applied in zinc deficient soils.
  • Micronutrients and growth regulators are sprayed for every harvest.

Plant protection

  • Blight of basil caused by Alternaria sp. affects the aerial part of the plant when the leaves turn purple and finally black.
  • Spraying of rop with 0.05 % Dithane Z-78 or Dithane M-45 once or two times controls the blight effectively. The crop[ is also affected by leaf rollers casuing severe damage to the crop which can be controlled by spraying with Malathion or Thiodan diluted with water as required.

Harvesting - Profits

  • Flowering herb is harvested 75 - 90 days after transplating and two months thereafter. Considering two harvests, a yield of 35 - 40 kg oil and a net profit of Rs. 10000 - 12000 per hectare may be obtained with an oil price of Rs. 500 per kg.


  • The oil is distilled from the flowering herb by a distillation process as described in palmarosa. Fresh herb is used for the distillation.
  • The recovery of oil from the fresh herb is 0.2 - 0.25 % per cent. It takes about 3 - 4 hours oof distillation for complete recovery of oil.