The aromatic plants belonging to genus Ocimum is popularly known by Basil. The word Basil is derived from greek word “Basilica” means royal plant. Among the Ocimum genus Ocimum basilicum is variously known as Sweet basil, French basil or Common basil. Ocimum sanctum is known as Sacred basil or Holy basil which is a very sacred plant according to Hindu belief. These aromatic plants are native to Indian subcontinent and cultivated throughout Southeast Asian tropics. The essential oils from Ocimum genus find diverse uses in perfumery and cosmetic industries as well as indigenous systems of medicines. Basil is cultivated over an area of 25,000 ha in India and it accounts for annual
production of about 250- 300 Tons of oil. As the demand in aromatic industry is growing high, concerns are raising over the improved production and quality of raw materials used. Hence, we feel farmers shall take up Basil cultivation and increase the production by adopting the proper cultivation practices.
Sacred basil or Holy basil, Ocimum sanctum Linn is a biennial or triennial shrub. The leaves of this plant on steam distillation yield a bright yellow colour volatile oil possessing a pleasant odour with an appreciable note of clove oil. The plant contains mainly phenols, aldehydes, tannins, saponin and fats. The essential oil major components are eugenol (71%), eugenol methyl ether (20%), carvacrol (3%) etc. The leaves are used as condiment in salads and other foods. O. sanctum is an erect, herbaceous, much-branched, softly hairy biennial or triennial, which grows to a height of 30-75 cm. Leaves are entire, serrate, pubescent on both sides, flowers purplish or crimson, in racemes, fruits are sub-globose or broadly ellipsoid, slightly compressed, nearly smooth, pale brown or reddish with small black markings.
Ocimums are important groups of aromatic and medicinal plants which yield many essential oils and aroma chemicals and find diverse uses in perfumery, cosmetic industries and also in indigenous systems of medicine. In view of great diversity, various species are classified into two broad groups, viz., basilicum and sanctum groups, In India two types of O. sanctum are under cultivation; the green type - Sri tulsi (Ram tulsi) is the most common; the second type, Krishna tulsi bears purple leaves and is preferred in the trade for its higher potency of drug.