Basil is the most popular of all the herbs used in Melbourne kitchens. Its beautiful aroma is familiar to everyone. Basil is one of the most valuable plants in the garden, and is a perfect flavouring with tomatoes. They are easy to look after and they contribute much to many different types of dishes in the kitchen. The edible basil that is most familiar to most people would be Sweet or Italian Basil Ocimum basilicum. The plant has large, soft, fragrant, lush foliage that is frost tender, so it grows well through summer and throughout the year in warmer areas of Australia.
Basil is native to India, China, Southeast Asia, and New Guinea. It was originally domesticated in India, having been cultivated there for more than 5,000 years,but was thoroughly familiar to Theophrastus and Dioscorides. It is a half-hardyannual plant, best known as a culinary herb prominently featured in Italian cuisine, and also plays a major role in Southeast Asian cuisines of Indonesia, Thailand,Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and the cuisine of Taiwan. Depending on the species and cultivar, the leaves may taste somewhat like anise, with a strong, pungent, often sweet smell.