Inventory, lb : 0
Clove basil is a larger than average basil variety, hence the nickname, “Tree basil.” It can reach heights of three meters (or four feet). Its woody stem is dark green to purple, sprouting large elliptical, lime-colored leaves with coarsely serrated edges. Clove basil is very aromatic, the oils in the leaves give off an intense clove aroma with the occasional notes of thyme. Mature plants develop edible, white flowers that have a slightly feathery appearance and are bitter compared to the sweet and spicy leaves.
Clove basil is available year-round, with a peak season in the summer months.
Clove basil is an aromatic perennial herb that is botanically classified as Ocimum gratissimum with two other synonyms, Ocimum viride, and Ocimum suave. It may also be commonly referred to as African basil, Himalayan basil, Tree basil and East Indian basil. Like its name implies, Clove basil offers a strong clove aroma that has both culinary and everyday household applications.
Clove basil is a good source of eugenol and thymol, essential oils that give Clove basil its renowned fragrance of clove with a touch of thyme. Eugenol and thymol are used in everyday products like mouthwash, toothpaste and soaps for their antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. Field tests of O. gratissimum were conducted in the 1980s in Indiana, developing strains richer in eugenol for use in applications for clove oil.
Clove basil can be used in most applications that call for basil. The more intense clove flavor pairs well with meats and vegetables, and is a flavorful addition to soups and stews. Basil generally loses its aroma when cooked. To instill flavor in the dish, add chopped leaves during preparation and add more at the end as a garnish for greater aroma and color. The long Clove basil leaves will bruise and darken when cut with a knife; tearing the leaves will help the leaves keep their lime green color. Substitute Clove basil for thyme in poultry dishes.
In Indonesia, Clove basil is called ruku-ruku rimba and is used to make tea. In India and Africa, O. gratissimum is used for medicinal purposes. The whole plant is used in treatments for digestive issues, headache and the flu. The essential oils in Clove basil, eugenol and thymol are used to soothe sore throats, fever and skin irritants. In addition, the oils are natural insect repellent. Pots of Clove basil are sometimes put at the backdoor in houses to keep the flies away on hot days. Leaves are crushed or burned to repel mosquitoes. Basil is a natural disinfectant and can be used along with other essential oils for household cleaning sprays.
Clove basil is native to tropical Africa, and is grown throughout India and Brazil. Home gardeners can order Clove basil seeds from various online companies to plant in temperate climates. In perfect conditions, Clove basil can be gown as a perennial, and as an annual in colder climates. Clove basil grows best in USDA Zone 10, or in areas where the temperature does not dip below 30°F.