Crazy basil

In the fall, I stop breaking flower buds off my basil plants and allow them to go to seed, then I pull the plants up and compost them.  After several years, I now have a self-seeding crop of thai basil, genovese basil, and the odd purple opal basil plant or two:  some pop up directly in the garden beds where the previous year’s plants dropped their tiny progeny, and others spring up wherever I spread compost or leaf mould from my pile.

This fall, I have an especially showy variant flowering right now.  It isn’t forming long, slender spikes typical of basils, but instead has branching, bushy, deep-purple flowerheads.  The leaves taste spicy, but not as strong as thai basil, with a bitter finish.  My crazy basil hybrid gets an A+ for looks, but a C in taste.

I’m not the only one tasting the basil:  Gulf fritillary butterflies seem to like all of my basil varieties….

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12 thoughts on “Crazy basil

  1. Beautiful. My friend has some of the purple basil with a serrated leaf edge. To me it doesn’t taste much like anything, but it is a very pretty plant. I’ve paired some of the cuttings with some of those tiny chartreuse mums for lovely fall flower arrangements.

    • That purple stuff IS nearly tasteless, isn’t it? The LSU fan in me wanted purple pesto, but it wasn’t very good, and the purple quickly faded to black.

  2. The bees are loving my basil flowers. I wish I knew where they are making basil honey. Not that I’d be brave enough to harvest it myself — one sting over a week ago has still left a lump on my arm. However, I am still happy to share the basil and mint flowers with the neighborhood bees.

        • Thanks but no thanks! The area where I live now was originally called “Mimosa Park” when it was developed in the 50s and 60s. Few mimosa trees remain, but enough still persist so that volunteered-by-birds mimosas pop up in my flowerbeds every spring. They’re practically a weed around here.

    • The “Genovese” basil is best for pesto: it has relatively small, tender leaves. What does best in my garden is thai basil. The smell of the leaves instantly gives me a craving for a bowl of pho.

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