basil

basil băz´əl [key], any plant of the genus Ocimum, tender herbs or small shrubs of the family Labiatae ( mint family), mostly of Old World warm regions and cultivated for the aromatic leaves. The basil of Keats's Isabella (and of Boccaccio's story) is the common or sweet basil ( O. basilicum ), once considered medicinal. This is the species usually used for seasoning; it is grown commercially chiefly in the Mediterranean area. There are also the holy basil, venerated in India; the bush basil; and related plants sometimes called basil. Basil is classified in the division Magnoliophyta , class Magnoliopsida, order Lamiales, family Labiatae.

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