Aromatic annual or short-lived perennial herb to 50 cm or so but mostly less, woody at the base. Leaves ovate to elliptic, to 5 cm long, 4 cm wide, tip pointed, margin entire or saw-toothed; stalk to about 3 cm long. Flower cluster whorls spaced along the stem, sometimes with persistent bracts, calyx hanging down. Corolla with a straight tube, white, pink or yellow; summer. Fruit nutlets black, sticky when wet. [O. citriodorum Vig.]
Naturalised in WA and Qld.
An important culinary herb, the major essential oil of which is thymol of which about 100 tonnes are produced annually. Leaves are used to flavour salads (grows and mixes well with tomatoes), pizza, stews and casseroles, sauces, liqueurs and so on.
The taxonomy of this species, its cultivars and botanical varieties is complex, with much intergrading, polyploidy and crossing of taxa. Variants are sometimes given botanical status as varieties and sometimes treated as cultivars. Both arrangements are presented here with the botanical taxa noted below and cultivars listed under the Cultivar tab.
O. ×citriodorum Vis. Leaves lemon-scented. [O.'Citriodorum']
var. difforme Benth. Leaves cut, curled and blistered. [O. basilicum var. crispum (Thunb.) E.A. Camus, O. 'Crispum']
var. minimum, Bush Basil (Greek Basil). A small bush with tiny ovate leaves less than 1 cm long. [O. minimum L., 'Minimum']
var. purpurascens Benth. Bracts, calyces and corolla purple or pinkish. [O. 'Purpurascens']
Source: (2002). Lavandula. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 4. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 3. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.
Leaf margins curled.
Leaves reddish purple and aniseed-scented.
Leaves green with curled edges.
Leaves exceptionally small.
Leaves purple with curled edges.
Benth. Bracts, calyces and corolla purple or pinkish.
Compact habit with small leaves and white flowers.
O. 'Cinnamon' and O. 'Green Bouquet' are also listed.