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New Crops News, Spring 1994, vol. 4 no. 1

New Basils

'Sweet Dani', a new true-breeding basil with a very strong fresh lemon aroma, was just announced by Jim Simon and Mario Morales of the Purdue New Crops Center. The new cultivar is vigorous and tall with large leaves and high essential oils (greater than 1% dry weight) and a high concentration of citral (70-75% of the total essential oil). The attractive plant form, light green leaves, small white flowers, and intense lemon aroma should provide a new ornamental basil for home gardens. In addition 'Sweet Dani' has potential as a new culinary basil for the herb industry. The plant can be used fresh in floral arrangements or dried in potpourris. The fresh or dry leaves can be used alone or in combination with other herbs for herbal tea mixes.

A new chemotype of basil from Africa identified by Jim Simon and Denys Charles appears promising as a natural source of geraniol. This unique plant is a tree type of African basil, that can reach up to 8' in height. Selections contain significant concentrations of geraniol, as high as 88% of essential oils from leaves and flowers. Typically this species contains high amounts of eugenol or thymol, not geraniol. Studies are underway to obtain true breeding types adapted to the Midwest.