Speaking of basil anyone will think of classic Genoese basil, an aromatic plant with beautiful green leaves that is widespread both in the kitchen and as a crop, we find it grown both in pots and in the garden.
However to the species Ocimum basilicum numerous varieties belong, some very different from the basil we all know. From the round bush of Greek basil to the particular shade of purple basil. Not only the classic aroma of basil that we put in pesto: we can discover others basil with a particular scent, such as cinnamon basil and licorice basil.
We have already explained how to grow basil, March is the right time to choose which variety to sow, the transplant in the field will take place in late spring. It is now worth exploring its varieties, from the most traditional to the less widespread, equally interesting to experiment. Although it is not always easy to find these basil in nurseries you can always consider ordering them online, you can find them for example on Piantinedaorto.it.
Let's start from best known and traditional variety: Genoese basil is an institution in Italian cuisine.It is an aromatic that loses most of its aroma with drying, so it is very useful to cultivate it so that you can have fresh leaves, just detached from the plant , which retain all their scent.
Precisely for this reason it is a very widespread crop and even those who have no garden cultivate it on the balcony or on a window sill.
The most typical locality of Ligurian basil is Prà. district of western Genoa, throughout Liguria PDO Genoese basil is grown.
Greek ball basil
Greek basil has a very particular aspect, which makes it ideal for a vegetable garden or in any case for ornamental contexts. The plant in fact forms a bush with an orderly spherical shape, the leaves are small and compact in a truly decorative whole.
However, this ball basil retains the characteristic aroma of the aromatic, slightly more delicate than the Ligurian variety.
From the point of view of cultivation, the same indications are followed as for Genoese basil.
Everyone knows that basil is green, but here's one variety that is an exception: purple, violet or red basil.
The peculiarity of this basil lies precisely in the color: the plant is very similar to the classic basil, but it is entirely of a bright amaranth or purple color.
The scent is also very similar to the Ligurian type, only a little more delicate, so you can use the leaves to prepare a surprising garnet-colored pesto.
Purple basil is therefore another discovery to experience in the garden, easily cultivated with the same technique as the best known basil.
Basil lemon (Ocimum basilicum citriodorum) is a variety of basil with a fairly normal appearance, it differs slightly from Ligurian basil due to the shape of the leaves, it also has a better resistance to cold.
The real peculiarity lies in the aroma, which in addition to maintaining what is the typical scent of basil, it adds notes reminiscent of lemon.
This makes its leaves excellent for flavoring fish-based dishes, but also to make a very good and particular basil liqueur, which enhances its particular citrus aftertaste.
The Arctic basil is also called mountain basil, as the name suggests, its most interesting feature is that it can tolerate cold.
This planta resists up to 10-12 degrees of temperature and therefore can have a longer cultivation period compared to traditional basil, if we have a sheltered place we can more easily allow our basil to winter. This species can be transplanted as early as March, so it is suitable for growing now.
Another peculiarity that makes arctic basil ideal for growers without a green thumb is excellent resistance to mildew and diseases in general.
Cinnamon basil, Thai basil, or licorice basil
Under the name of basil cinnamon we find two distinct varieties, united by a spicy aroma reminiscent of cinnamon.
La cinnamon or cinnamon variety (O. basilicum Cinnamon) true and proper is of Mexican origin and is characterized by having purple flowers and also the stem of a dark color always tending to purple, sometimes also the veins of the leaf, which however remain green.
Another variety is often called "cinnamon basil", the Thai basil (O. basilicum var. thyrsiflora), also with purple flowers and green leaves. Since the spicy aroma of the Thai type is more reminiscent of cinnamon, anise or licorice is also called licorice basil or anise basil.
In addition to cinnamon basil and licorice basil, there is another variety that is inspired by a different aroma: mint basil. The mint basil plants are in all respects basil plants, with the particularity of a note in the fragrance that recalls the refreshing aroma of mint.
A curiosity: not only is there a variety of basil that tastes like mint, but there is also a variety of mint that tastes like basil (Mentha piperita citrata 'Basil'), it may seem paradoxical but we can choose to plant both basil mint and basil mint.