An Old Basil Plant

Photo by Gayla Trail  All Rights Reserved

This is what happens to a basil plant when it is allowed to continue on with life well past one year. I wish I had a context shot to really show just how big and woody this plant had become. The bush came up past my hips and was so huge I didn’t even recognize it as a basil plant. I passed by it several times, and on a couple of separate occasions without giving it a second glance.

I don’t know which variety this is. The look and size of the leaves remind me of a variety called ‘Lesbos’, but the plants I have grown have never developed a purplish hue like this one. ‘Lesbos’ has a strong smell, but the leaves of this particular plant were very strong with an even deeper, spicier scent. When I asked, my host said it was medicinal and not used in cooking.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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4 thoughts on “An Old Basil Plant

  1. Thanks for the photo. I’ve honestly never considered leaving a basil plant to overwinter… I wonder the same as Life on the Balcony.

  2. We have a basil plant that has been going for about 18 months now… it isn’t as grand as this one, as it is only in a medium sized pot. The winter in Perth is very mild and I am pretty sure that is when it was planted. We still use the leaves for cooking- they are much smaller then usual and a different texture too- much smoother, but the flavour has really intensified with age. When it flowers (3 times so far) we make a half hearted effort to pinch off the flower buds to keep it going so it sort of staggers along.

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