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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

11 February, 2017

Wild Basil: just what the doctor ordered



When you look at the packets of herbs on a supermarket shelf and see mint, parsley, thyme, marjoram, basil and others it is easy to forget that these herbs grow in our own countryside. Not always the cultivated varieties of course but none the less related and often the source of the cultivated strain. So it is with wild basil (Clinopodium vulgare).
As with many of these herbs basil is a member of the labiate family, otherwise known as deadnettles; it is part of a sub-family of calamints. They generally have trumpet shaped flowers, in the case of wild basil this is purple-pink, square stems and downy, veined, oval, opposite pairs of leaves with a serrated edge. Wild basil grows to about a foot tall although in favourable conditions it can grow taller and flowers from July to September in dry grassy places; usually on lime or chalk. 
As with many of its relatives, in addition to its culinary value it is considered a herbal remedy for a number of conditions stimulating the heart to healing wounds to reducing flatulence. A tea made from the leaves is both tasty and, it seems, a cure for many ills. Just what the doctor ordered!
Wild Basil: just what the doctor ordered