How to save your supermarket basil
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Background and Identification
Basil, also called great basil, is a culinary herb of the mint family. A wide range of basil varieties is native to tropical regions from central Africa to Southeast Asia. Basil is a tender plant and its leaves are used in cuisines worldwide. Common types of basil include sweet basil (Genovese basil), Thai basil (O. basilicum var. thyrsiflora), lemon basil (O. × citriodorum), and holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum).
Most common varieties of basil are treated as annuals, meaning the plant completes its life cycle from germination to the production of seeds within one growing season and then dies. Some basil varieties are perennial in warm, tropical climates, meaning the plant lives more than two years.
Depending on the variety, basil plants can reach between 30 centimeters (0.98 feet) and 150 centimeters (4.9 feet). Basil generally has rich green ovate leaves but can come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Leaf sizes range from 3 centimeters (1.2 inches) to 11 centimeters (4.3 inches) long, and between 1 centimeter (0.39 inches) and 6 centimeters (2.4 inches) wide. Basil generally grows a thick, central taproot. Basil grows small white flowers that grow from a central stem atop the plant.
Basil is sensitive to cold, with the best growth in hot, dry conditions. Basil plants behave as an annual if there is any chance of frost. Basil grows well in Mediterranean climates, temperate zones, and subtropical climates.