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(archangelica Officinalis Hoffm)
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Least Viewed Herbs

Finocchio
Southernwood
(archangelica Officinalis Hoffm)
And There Is Pansies That's For Thoughts
Acorn
Poppy
Bluebell (wild Hyacinth)
Asparagus
Anemone (wood)
House Leek (crassulaceoe)



Basil








The herb Sweet Basil (Ocymum Basilicum) is so called because
the smell thereof is fit for a king's house. It grows commonly in
our kitchen gardens, but in England it dies down every year, and
the seeds have to be sown annually. Botanically, it is named
basilicon, or royal, probably because used of old in some regal
unguent, or bath, or medicine.

This, and the wild Basil, belong to the Labiate order of plants. The
leaves of the Sweet Basil, when slightly bruised, exhale a
delightful odour; they gave the distinctive flavour to the original
Fetter-Lane sausages.

The Wild Basil (Calamintha clinopodium) or Basil thyme, or
Horse thyme, is a hairy plant growing in bushy places, also about
hedges and roadsides, and bearing whorls of purple flowers with
a strong odour of cloves. The term Clinopodium signifies bed's-foot
flower, because the branches dooe resemble the foot of a
bed. In common with the other labiates, Basil, both the wild and
the sweet, furnishes an aromatic volatile camphoraceous oil. On
this account it is much employed in France for flavouring soups
(especially mock turtle) and [46] sauces; and the dry leaves, in the
form of snuff, are used for relieving nervous headaches. A tea,
made by pouring boiling water on the garden basil, when green,
gently but effectually helps on the retarded monthly flow with
women. The Bush Basil is Ocymum minimum, of which the leafy
tops are used for seasoning, and in salads.

The Sweet Basil has been immortalised by Keats in his tender,
pathetic poem of Isabella and the Pot of Basil, founded on
a story from Boccaccio. She reverently possessed herself of
the decapitated head of her lover, Lorenzo, who had been
treacherously slain:--

She wrapped it up, and for its tomb did choose
A garden pot, wherein she laid it by,
And covered it with mould, and o'er it set
Sweet Basil, which her tears kept ever wet.

The herb was used at funerals in Persia. Its seeds were sown by the
Romans with maledictions and curses through the belief that the
more it was abused the better it would prosper. When desiring a
good crop they trod it down with their feet, and prayed the gods it
might not vegetate. The Greeks likewise supposed Basil to thrive
best when sown with swearing; and this fact explains the French
saying, Semer la Basilic, as signifying to slander. It was told
in Elizabeth's time that the hand of a fair lady made Basil flourish;
and this was then planted in pots as an act of gallantry. Basil,
says John Evelyn, imparts a grateful flavour to sallets if not too
strong, but is somewhat offensive to the eyes. Shenstone, in his
School Mistress's Garden, tells of the tufted Basil, and
Culpeper quaintly says: Something is the matter; Basil and Rue
will never grow together: no, nor near one another. It is related
[47] that a certain advocate of Genoa was once sent as an
ambassador to treat for conditions with the Duke of Milan; but the
Duke harshly refused to hear the message, or to grant the
conditions. Then the Ambassador offered him a handful of Basil.
Demanding what this meant, the Duke was told that the properties
of the herb were, if gently handled, to give out a pleasant odour;
but that, if bruised, and hardly wrung, it would breed scorpions.
Moved by this witty answer, the Duke confirmed the conditions,
and sent the Ambassador honourably home.





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