From tropical and subtropical Asia. Somewhat bushy plant to 2 ft. tall and 1 ft. wide, with green, shiny, 1–2-in.-long leaves and spikes of white flowers. Forms with purple or variegated leaves have purple flowers. Very popular culinary herb. Used fresh or dry, its leaves lend a pleasant, mildly sweet flavor to sauces and cooked dishes of all sorts. The best leaves are from younger stems that have not yet borne flowers.
There is a dwarf, small-leafed kind that thrives in containers. Sow seeds of any basil in early spring; or set out nursery plants after all danger of frost is past. Space plants 10–12 in. apart or thin to this distance.