Basil, Wild

Medical Herbs Catalogue


Basil, Wild

Botanical Name: Calamintha Clinopodium
Family: N.O. Labiatae

Synonyms: Hedge Basil. Hedge Calamint.
Habitat: The plant is widely distributed throughout the North Temperate Zone, and is common in England and Scotland in dry hedges and the borders of copses, mostly in high situations. In Ireland it is somewhat rare.

The Wild Basil, or Hedge Basil (Calamintha Clinopodium) (sometimes called Hedge Calamint), is a straggling plant with somewhat weak-looking, though erect stems, rising to a height of a foot or 18 inches, and thickly covered with soft hairs.

Description: The shortly - stalked, egg shaped leaves, 1 to 2 inches long, are placedopposite to one another on the four-angled stem, the pairs being some distance apart. They are only slightly toothed at their edges and like the stem are downy with soft hairs.

The flowers, with tubular, lipped corollas of a pinkish colour, are arranged on the stem in several crowded, bristly rings or whorls, at the points from which the leaf-stalks spring, and are in bloom from July to September.

The whole herb is aromatic and fragrant, with a faint Thyme-like odour, and like Calamint has been used to make an infusion for similar complaints.

The name of the species, Clinopodium, signifies 'bedfoot.' An old writer says 'the tufts of the plant are like the knobs at the feet of a bed,' but the comparison is not very obvious. By some botanists the plant has been described under the name of C. vulgare, but it is now assigned to the genus, Calamintha.