Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Ocimum gratissimum
(African basil)

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Datasheet

Ocimum gratissimum (African basil)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 20 December 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Ocimum gratissimum
  • Preferred Common Name
  • African basil
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Ocimum gratissimum is an aromatic herb that been introduced extensively across tropical and subtropical regions of the world. It has escaped cultivation and can be found growing as a weed in disturbed sites, wa...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Ocimum gratissimum (African basil); habit, showing leaves and seedheads. Nuu, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2009.
TitleHabit
CaptionOcimum gratissimum (African basil); habit, showing leaves and seedheads. Nuu, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2009.
Copyright©Forest & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0
Ocimum gratissimum (African basil); habit, showing leaves and seedheads. Nuu, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2009.
HabitOcimum gratissimum (African basil); habit, showing leaves and seedheads. Nuu, Maui, Hawaii, USA. February 2009.©Forest & Kim Starr - CC BY 4.0

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Ocimum gratissimum L.

Preferred Common Name

  • African basil

Other Scientific Names

  • Geniosporum discolor Baker
  • Ocimum arborescens Bojer ex Benth
  • Ocimum dalabaense A.Chev.
  • Ocimum febrifugum Lindl.
  • Ocimum guineense Schumach. & Thonn.
  • Ocimum heptodon P.Beauv.
  • Ocimum holosericeum J.F.Gmel.
  • Ocimum petiolare Lam.
  • Ocimum robustum B.Heyne ex Hook.f.
  • Ocimum sericeum Medik.
  • Ocimum suave Willd.
  • Ocimum trichodon Baker ex Gürke
  • Ocimum urticifolium Roth
  • Ocimum viride Willd.
  • Ocimum viridiflorum Roth
  • Ocimum zeylanicum Medik.

International Common Names

  • English: clover basil; East Indian basil; shrubby basil; tree basil
  • Spanish: albahaca Africana; albahaca cimarrona; albahaca de limón
  • French: basilic sauvage; menthe gabonaise
  • Chinese: wu mao ding xiang luo le
  • Portuguese: alfavaca-de-caboclo; alfavacão

Local Common Names

  • Brazil: alfavaca brava
  • Cambodia: ling leak kranam
  • Cuba: albahaca de clavo; canela; clavo; clavo mondonguero; laurel cimarrón; orégano cimarrón
  • Dominican Republic: albahaca vaca; atiyayo
  • Haiti: basilic à petites fleurs; basilic grandes feuilles; folle basin; fombasin; gran basilique; grand basilique; grand fombasin
  • India: ajeka; doshakleshi; elumiccam tulaci; elumichanthulasi; kattuthrithavu; mali-thulasi; perumthulasi; ram tulsi
  • Indonesia: kemangi hutan; ruku-ruku rimba; selaseh mekah
  • Jamaica: African tea bush
  • Lesser Antilles: basilic; frond bazin; mint
  • Malaysia: ruku-ruku hitam; selaseh besar
  • Netherlands Antilles: anis; yerba di hole blanku
  • Panama: origanum de castilla
  • Thailand: horapha-chang; kaphrao-chang; yira
  • Vietnam: é lá lớn; hương nhu trắng

Summary of Invasiveness

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Ocimum gratissimum is an aromatic herb that been introduced extensively across tropical and subtropical regions of the world. It has escaped cultivation and can be found growing as a weed in disturbed sites, waste areas, pastures and along roadsides, but also invading disturbed natural vegetation, savannas, coastal thickets and riparian areas. In this species, seeds are small and numerous and easily dispersed by gravity, animals, human activities and as a contaminant in soil and garden debris.  Once established, O. gratissimum has the potential to grow forming dense monospecific thickets that outcompete native vegetation and reduce native biodiversity.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Lamiales
  •                         Family: Lamiaceae
  •                             Genus: Ocimum
  •                                 Species: Ocimum gratissimum

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The family Lamiaceae contains 236 genera and about 7200 species of herbs, shrubs, trees and vines distributed worldwide (Stevens, 2017). Ocimum comprises about 65 species, most of which are native to Africa (Flora Mesoamericana, 2018). Many Ocimum species have been cultivated for thousands of years, particularly across the Mediterranean Basin and in southern Asian regions (Bhasin, 2012). Ocimum gratissimum is a very variable, polymorphic species with numerous forms, many of which have previously been treated as different species and subspecies (The Plant List, 2013; Useful Tropical Plants, 2018).

Description

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The following description is from PROSEA (2018):

Herbaceous perennial shrubs (or subshrubs), 1-3 m tall; stem erect, round-quadrangular, much branched, glabrous or pubescent, woody at the base. Leaves opposite; petiole 2-4.5 cm long, slender, pubescent; blade elliptical to ovate, 5-16 x 3-9 cm, membranaceous, sometimes glandular punctate, base cuneate, entire, margin elsewhere coarsely crenate-serrate, apex acute, puberulent or pubescent. Inflorescence arranged in a terminal, simple or branched raceme 5-30 cm long; rachis lax, softly pubescent; bracts sessile, ovate, 3-12 mm x 1-7 mm, acuminate; pedicel 1-4 mm long, spreading or ascending, slightly curved; flowers in 6-10-flowered verticillasters, small, hermaphrodite; calyx 2-lipped, 2-3 mm long, in fruit 5-6 mm, pubescent, upper lip rounded and recurved, reflexed in fruit, lower lip with 4, narrow, pointed teeth, central pair of teeth minute and much shorter than the upper lip; corolla campanulate, 3.5-5 mm long, 2-lipped, greenish-white, pubescent outside, upper lip truncate, 4-fid, lower lip longer, declinate, flat, entire; stamens 4, declinate, in 2 pairs, inserted on the corolla tube, filaments distinctly exserted, upper pair with a bearded tooth at the base; ovary superior, consisting of 2 carpels, each 2-celled, style 2-fid. Fruit consisting of 4, dry, 1-seeded nutlets enclosed in the persistent calyx (the lower lip closing the mouth of the fruiting calyx); nutlet subglobose, 1.5 mm long, rugose, brown.

Plant Type

Top of page Broadleaved
Herbaceous
Perennial
Seed propagated
Shrub
Vegetatively propagated
Woody

Distribution

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Ocimum gratissimum is native to tropical Africa, India and South East Asia. It is cultivated and naturalized in China, South America, the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand and on many islands in the Indian and the Pacific region (Acevedo-Rodríguez and Strong, 2012; Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2018; PIER, 2018; PROTA, 2018; USDA-ARS, 2018; WCSP, 2018). It is considered invasive on a number of Pacific and Caribbean Islands (Burg et al., 2012; Oviedo Prieto and González-Oliva, 2015; PIER, 2018).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

Africa

AngolaPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
BeninPresentIntroducedWCSP (2018)
BotswanaPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
Burkina FasoPresentIntroducedWCSP (2018)
BurundiPresentNative and IntroducedGRIIS (2018); WCSP (2018)Recorded as both native and introduced
Cabo VerdePresentIntroducedWCSP (2018)
CameroonPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
Central African RepublicPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
ChadPresentIntroducedWCSP (2018)
Congo, Democratic Republic of thePresentNative and IntroducedGRIIS (2018); WCSP (2018)Recorded as both native and introduced
Congo, Republic of thePresentNativeWCSP (2018)
Côte d'IvoirePresentNativeWCSP (2018)
DjiboutiPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
Equatorial GuineaPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
EritreaPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
EswatiniPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
EthiopiaPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
GabonPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
GambiaPresentIntroducedWCSP (2018)
GhanaPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
GuineaPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
Guinea-BissauPresentIntroducedWCSP (2018)
KenyaPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
LiberiaPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
MadagascarPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
MalawiPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
MauritiusPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
MayottePresentIntroducedPIER (2018)
MozambiquePresentNativeWCSP (2018)
NamibiaPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
NigerPresentIntroducedWCSP (2018)
NigeriaPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
RéunionPresentIntroducedINPN (2018)
RwandaPresentNative and IntroducedGRIIS (2018); WCSP (2018)Recorded as both native and introduced
SenegalPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
SeychellesPresentIntroducedGRIIS (2018)
-Aldabra IslandsPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
Sierra LeonePresentNativeWCSP (2018)
SomaliaPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
South AfricaPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
SudanPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
TanzaniaPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
TogoPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
UgandaPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
ZambiaPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
ZimbabwePresentNativeWCSP (2018)

Asia

BangladeshPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
British Indian Ocean TerritoryPresentIntroducedInvasivePIER (2018)
CambodiaPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
ChinaPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee (2018)
-FujianPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee (2018)Cultivated
-GuangdongPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee (2018)Cultivated
-GuangxiPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee (2018)Cultivated
-JiangsuPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee (2018)Cultivated
-YunnanPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee (2018)Cultivated
-ZhejiangPresentIntroducedFlora of China Editorial Committee (2018)Cultivated
IndiaPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
-Andaman and Nicobar IslandsPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
-Andhra PradeshPresentSahoo and Kumar (2013)Cultivated
-AssamPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
-BiharPresentIndia Biodiversity Portal (2018)
-DelhiPresentSahoo and Kumar (2013)Cultivated
-Jammu and KashmirPresentSahoo and Kumar (2013)Cultivated
-KarnatakaPresentIndia Biodiversity Portal (2018)
-KeralaPresentIndia Biodiversity Portal (2018)
-MaharashtraPresentIndia Biodiversity Portal (2018)
-Tamil NaduPresentIndia Biodiversity Portal (2018)
IndonesiaPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
-JavaPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
-SumatraPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
LaosPresentNative and IntroducedGRIIS (2018); WCSP (2018)Recorded as both native and introduced
MalaysiaPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
MaldivesPresentIntroducedPIER (2018)
NepalPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
Sri LankaPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
TaiwanPresentIntroducedGRIIS (2018)
ThailandPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
VietnamPresentNativeWCSP (2018)
YemenPresentNativeWCSP (2018)

North America

AnguillaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
Antigua and BarbudaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedBroome et al. (2007)
ArubaPresentIntroducedInvasiveBurg et al. (2012)
BarbadosPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba
-BonairePresentIntroducedInvasiveBurg et al. (2012)
CubaPresentIntroducedInvasiveOviedo Prieto and González-Oliva (2015)
CuraçaoPresentIntroducedInvasiveBurg et al. (2012)
DominicaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedBroome et al. (2007)
Dominican RepublicPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
GrenadaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedBroome et al. (2007)
GuadeloupePresentINPN (2018)
HaitiPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
JamaicaPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
MartiniquePresentINPN (2018)
MexicoPresentIntroducedWCSP (2018)
MontserratPresent, WidespreadIntroducedBroome et al. (2007)
PanamaPresentIntroducedFlora Mesoamericana (2018)
Puerto RicoPresentIntroducedAcevedo-Rodríguez and Strong (2012)
Saint LuciaPresent, WidespreadIntroducedBroome et al. (2007)
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesPresent, WidespreadIntroducedBroome et al. (2007)
United StatesPresentIntroducedInvasiveCABI (Undated)Present based on regional distribution
-HawaiiPresentIntroducedInvasivePIER (2018)

Oceania

Cook IslandsPresentIntroducedInvasiveGRIIS (2018)
Federated States of MicronesiaPresentIntroducedPIER (2018)Distribution includes the State of Kosrae
-PohnpeiPresentIntroducedPIER (2018)
-YapPresentIntroducedPIER (2018)
FijiPresentIntroducedPIER (2018)
French PolynesiaPresentIntroducedInvasivePIER (2018)
GuamPresentIntroducedPIER (2018)
New CaledoniaPresentIntroducedInvasivePIER (2018)
PalauPresentIntroducedInvasivePIER (2018)
Papua New GuineaPresentIntroducedPIER (2018)
SamoaPresentIntroducedInvasivePIER (2018)
TongaPresentIntroducedInvasivePIER (2018)
VanuatuPresentIntroducedGRIIS (2018)

South America

BrazilPresentIntroducedWCSP (2018)
-AcrePresentIntroducedNaturalizedFlora do Brasil (2018)Naturalized
-AmazonasPresentIntroducedNaturalizedFlora do Brasil (2018)Naturalized
-BahiaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedFlora do Brasil (2018)Naturalized
-CearaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedFlora do Brasil (2018)Naturalized
-Distrito FederalPresentIntroducedNaturalizedFlora do Brasil (2018)Naturalized
-Espirito SantoPresentIntroducedNaturalizedFlora do Brasil (2018)Naturalized
-GoiasPresentIntroducedNaturalizedFlora do Brasil (2018)Naturalized
-Mato GrossoPresentIntroducedNaturalizedFlora do Brasil (2018)Naturalized
-Minas GeraisPresentIntroducedNaturalizedFlora do Brasil (2018)Naturalized
-ParaibaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedFlora do Brasil (2018)Naturalized
-ParanaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedFlora do Brasil (2018)Naturalized
-PiauiPresentIntroducedNaturalizedFlora do Brasil (2018)Naturalized
-Rio de JaneiroPresentIntroducedNaturalizedFlora do Brasil (2018)Naturalized
-RoraimaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedFlora do Brasil (2018)Naturalized
-Santa CatarinaPresentIntroducedNaturalizedFlora do Brasil (2018)Naturalized
-Sao PauloPresentIntroducedNaturalizedFlora do Brasil (2018)Naturalized
-SergipePresentIntroducedNaturalizedFlora do Brasil (2018)Naturalized
ChilePresentIntroducedCABI (Undated)Present based on regional distribution
-Easter IslandPresentIntroducedGRIIS (2018)
GuyanaPresentIntroducedFlora Mesoamericana (2018)
SurinamePresentIntroducedGRIIS (2018)
VenezuelaPresentIntroducedFlora Mesoamericana (2018)

History of Introduction and Spread

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Many Ocimum species have been cultivated for thousands of years, particularly across the Mediterranean Basin and southern Asian regions (Bhasin, 2012). O. gratissimum has been extensively introduced as an aromatic and medicinal herb. Across tropical Africa (from where it is thought to originate) and southern Asia, it is cultivated mainly in home gardens; only in Vietnam is it grown on a commercial scale (Oyen and Nguyen, 1999; Orwa et al., 2009; Flora Mesoamericana, 2018).

Habitat

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Ocimum gratissimum occurs in coastal scrubland, lakeshores, savannas, submontane forest, disturbed areas around villages and along roadsides and streams, at elevations from sea level up to 2300 m. It can also be found cultivated as an ornamental and hedge plant in home gardens (Orwa et al., 2009; PROSEA, 2018; PROTA, 2018; Useful Tropical Plants, 2018). In India, it generally grows in moist and dry deciduous forests, plains and valleys (India Biodiversity Portal, 2018). In the Lesser Antilles, it is listed as a widespread and quite common herb, often naturalized in open wet areas at lower and middle elevations (Broome et al., 2007; Graveson, 2016). Across islands in the Pacific region, it grows as a weed of roadsides, wasteland and pastures (PIER, 2018).

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Natural
Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Natural
Disturbed areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Natural
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural forests Present, no further details Natural
Natural forests Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Natural
Natural grasslands Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Riverbanks Present, no further details Natural
Riverbanks Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Scrub / shrublands Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Arid regions Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Arid regions Present, no further details Natural
Arid regions Present, no further details Productive/non-natural
Littoral
Coastal areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Coastal areas Present, no further details Natural
Coastal areas Present, no further details Productive/non-natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The chromosome number reported for O. gratissimum is 2n = 40, 48, 64 (Mukherjee and Datta, 2006; PROSEA, 2018).

Reproductive biology

Members of the genus Ocimum have bisexual and zygomorphic flowers with diurnal anthesis. There is very limited information about the reproductive biology of O. gratissimum, but species in the same genus, such as O. basilicum and O. americanum, exhibit a mixed mating system via out-crossing and autogamy. Pollination by insects, including bees, butterflies, flies and wasps has been reported for various Ocimum species, and a study also showed that for three different species within this genus, insect pollination enhances fruit and seed production (Raju 1989; Oziegbe et al., 2016).

A germination and growth experiment showed that O. gratissimum has low germination rates (<10%). Plants produced flowers after 136 days and continued until 195 days. Seeds matured after 259 days. Another experiment showed that cuttings took 28 days to take root (Echeverry et al., 1990; Oyen and Nguyen, 1999; Orwa et al., 2009). 

Physiology and phenology

Ocimum gratissimum is a perennial herb. In South East Asia, flowers can be found throughout the year (PROSEA, 2018). In India O. gratissimum produces flowers and fruits from August to December (India Biodiversity Portal, 2018). In China it has been recorded flowering in October and fruiting in November (Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2018). In cultivation, plants may remain productive for 5-10 years (PROSEA, 2018).

Environmental requirements

Species in the genus Ocimum grow in both seasonal dry and moist habitats with temperatures ranging from 18°C to 27°C (but species can tolerate 7-36°C). Species grow where mean rainfall is in the range 1000 mm to 1600 mm (but a wider range of 600-4000 mm can be tolerated). They are adapted to different soil types with pH in the range 5.6-7.5. O. gratissimum prefers open areas with full sunlight. Optimal temperature for germination is about 20-25°C (Orwa et al., 2009; PROSEA, 2018; PROTA, 2018; Useful Tropical Plants, 2018).  

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Af - Tropical rainforest climate Preferred > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
BS - Steppe climate Tolerated > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Tolerated Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
35 30

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean annual temperature (ºC) 18 27
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 7
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 36

Rainfall

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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Mean annual rainfall6004000mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Summer
Uniform
Winter

Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free

Soil reaction

  • acid
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Notes on Natural Enemies

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There is no information about pest and/or diseases affecting O. gratissimum. However, for the closely related species Ocimum basilicum the following natural enemies have been reported (PROSEA, 2018):

  • Basil wilt caused by Fusarium oxysporum
  • Basal rot caused by Rhizoctonia spp. and Sclerotinia spp.
  • Grey mold caused by Botrytis cinerea
  • Colletotrichum spp. causes dry necrotic spots to develop on the leaves.
  • In Thailand the larvae of the Lepidopteran Syngamia abruptalis cause some damage by feeding inside folded leaves.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Ocimum gratissimum spreads by seeds. In cultivation it is propagated by stem fragments (i.e., cuttings). Seeds are relatively small, numerous and enclosed in nutlets and may be dispersed by gravity, by animals while foraging on the edible leaves, or as contaminant in soil, human waste and garden debris (PROSEA, 2018; PROTA, 2018).

Intentional introduction

Ocimum gratissimum has been primarily spread by humans around the world as a cultivated plant for use as a culinary, aromatic and medicinal herb (Orwa et al., 2009; USDA-ARS, 2018).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Crop productionCultivated for the essential oil extracted from leaves and stems Yes Yes Orwa et al., 2009
DisturbanceWeed of open sites, disturbed areas, roadsides, etc Yes Yes PROSEA, 2018
Escape from confinement or garden escapeSeed, stem fragment in garden waste Yes Yes PROSEA, 2018
Garden waste disposalSeed, stem fragment in garden waste Yes Yes PROSEA, 2018
Hedges and windbreaksPlanted as hedge plant Yes Yes Orwa et al., 2009
HorticultureOrnamental, aromatic, culinary plant Yes Yes PROSEA, 2018
Intentional releaseCultivated for the essential oil extracted from leaves and stems Yes Yes Orwa et al., 2009
Internet salesSeeds available online Yes Yes
Medicinal useExtensively used in traditional African and Asian medicine Yes Yes PROSEA, 2018
Nursery tradeOrnamental, aromatic, culinary plant Yes Yes PROSEA, 2018
Ornamental purposesOrnamental, aromatic, culinary plant Yes Yes PROSEA, 2018
People foragingLeaves eaten as vegetables and also used for tea Yes Yes PROSEA, 2018

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Debris and waste associated with human activitiesSeed, stem fragment in garden waste Yes Yes PROSEA, 2018
MailSeeds available online Yes Yes
LivestockSeed and stem fragment Yes Yes PROSEA, 2018
Soil, sand and gravelSeed, stem fragment in garden waste Yes Yes PROSEA, 2018

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenity Positive
Economic/livelihood Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Positive and negative
Human health Positive

Environmental Impact

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Ocimum gratissimum can be found growing as a weed in disturbed sites, waste areas, pastures and along roadsides, but also invading disturbed natural vegetation, savannas, coastal thickets and riparian areas. In invaded areas, it grows forming dense monospecific thickets that outcompete native vegetation and reduce native biodiversity. It is listed as highly invasive and as a species of environmental concern in New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Eastern Island, Mayotte, Cook Islands, Hawaii, Samoa, Palau, Tonga, Cuba, Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, Martinique and Guadeloupe (Meyer et al., 2006; Burg et al., 2012; Oviedo and Gonzalez-Oliva, 2015; ISSG, 2018; INPN, 2018; PIER, 2018).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Is a habitat generalist
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Pioneering in disturbed areas
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Long lived
  • Fast growing
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Gregarious
  • Reproduces asexually
Impact outcomes
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Modification of successional patterns
  • Monoculture formation
  • Reduced native biodiversity
  • Threat to/ loss of native species
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
  • Competition - smothering
  • Rapid growth
  • Rooting
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Difficult to identify/detect as a commodity contaminant
  • Difficult to identify/detect in the field

Uses

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Ocimum gratissimum is grown for the essential oil that is extracted from its leaves and stems. Eugenol and, to a lesser extent, thymol extracted from the oil are substitutes for clove oil and thyme oil. The essential oil is also used in perfumery. This species is often planted as ornamental, culinary and medicinal plant. In Asia, a tea is made from the leaves. Leaves are also eaten in salads and used as a condiment for sauces, soups or meat. It is also planted for hedges and as a mosquito repellent (Oyen and Nguyen, 1999; Orwa et al., 2009; Useful Tropical Plants, 2018; PROSEA, 2018; PROTA, 2018; USDA-ARS, 2018). 

In Indonesia the oil is used in the ceremonial washing of corpses and the plant is often planted in graveyards.  In India, O. gratissimum is widely used in religious ceremonies and rituals. The whole plant and the essential oil have many applications in traditional medicine, especially in Africa and India. Preparations from the whole plant are used as stomachic and in treating sunstroke, headache and influenza. The seeds have laxative properties and the essential oil is used to treat fever, inflammations of the throat, ears or eyes, stomach pain, diarrhea and skin diseases (Oyen and Nguyen, 1999; Orwa et al., 2009; Useful Tropical Plants, 2018; PROSEA, 2018; PROTA, 2018; USDA-ARS, 2018). 

Uses List

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Drugs, stimulants, social uses

  • Religious

Environmental

  • Amenity
  • Boundary, barrier or support

General

  • Ritual uses

Human food and beverage

  • Leaves (for beverage)
  • Spices and culinary herbs

Materials

  • Essential oils

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Source of medicine/pharmaceutical
  • Traditional/folklore

Ornamental

  • Potted plant
  • Seed trade

References

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Acevedo-Rodríguez, P., Strong, M. T., 2012. Catalogue of the Seed Plants of the West Indies, Washington, DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution.1192 pp. http://botany.si.edu/Antilles/WestIndies/catalog.htm

Bhasin M, 2012. Ocimum-Taxonomy, medicinal potentialities and economic value of essential oil. Journal of Biosphere, 1, 48-50.

Broome, R., Sabir, K., Carrington, S., 2007. Plants of the Eastern Caribbean. Online database. In: Plants of the Eastern Caribbean. Online database , Barbados: University of the West Indies.http://ecflora.cavehill.uwi.edu/index.html

Burg, W. J. van der, Freitas, J. de, Debrot, A. O., Lotz, L. A. P., 2012. Naturalised and invasive alien plant species in the Caribbean Netherlands: status distribution, threats, priorities and recommendations. Report of a joint IMARES/CARMABI/PRI project. In: Naturalised and invasive alien plant species in the Caribbean Netherlands: status distribution, threats, priorities and recommendations. Report of a joint IMARES/CARMABI/PRI project . Wageningen, Netherlands: Plant Research International.82 pp. http://www.ciasnet.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/C185-11%20Invasive%20plants%20Dutch%20Caribbean.pdf

Echeverry O., S. H., Muñoz F., J. E., Tamayo C., C. H., 1990. Studies on the growth and phenology of Ocimum basilicum L., Ocimum minimum L. and Ocimum gratissimum Hook. (Estudio del crecimiento y fenología de las especies de albahaca, Ocimum basilicum L., Ocimum minimum L. and Ociumum gratissimum Hook). Acta Agronómica, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, 40(1-2), 51-63.

Flora do Brasil, 2018. Brazilian flora 2020. In: Brazilian flora 2020 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Rio de Janeiro Botanic Garden.http://floradobrasil.jbrj.gov.br

Flora Mesoamericana, 2018. Flora Mesoamericana. (Flora Mesoamericana). In: Flora Mesoamericana St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden.http://www.tropicos.org/Project/fm

Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2018. Flora of China. In: Flora of China St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria.http://www.efloras.org/flora_page.aspx?flora_id=2

Graveson, R., 2016. Plants of Saint Lucia: a pictorial flora of wild and cultivated vascular plants. In: Plants of Saint Lucia: a pictorial flora of wild and cultivated vascular plants . http://www.saintlucianplants.com

GRIIS, 2018. Global Register of Introduced and Invasive Species. IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG).http://www.griis.org/

India Biodiversity Portal, 2018. Online Portal of India Biodiversity. In: Online Portal of India Biodiversity . http://indiabiodiversity.org/species/list

INPN, 2018. National Inventory of Natural Heritage. (Inventaire National du Patrimoine Naturel). France: Muséum national d'histoire naturelle.https://inpn.mnhn.fr/accueil/index

ISSG, 2018. Global Invasive Species Database (GISD). In: Global Invasive Species Database (GISD) : Invasive Species Specialist Group of the IUCN Species Survival Commission.http://www.issg.org/database/welcome/

Meyer, J. Y., Loope, L., Sheppard, A., Munzinger, J., Jaffre, T., 2006. [English title not available]. (Les plantes envahissantes et potentiellement envahissantes dans l'archipel néo-calédonien: Première évaluation et recommandations de gestion in Les Espèces Envahissantes Dans l'archipel Néo-Calédonien). In: Les plantes envahissantes et potentiellement envahissantes dans l'archipel néo-calédonien: Première évaluation et recommandations de gestion in Les Espèces Envahissantes Dans l'archipel . Paris, France: IRD Editions.

Moumita Mukherjee, Datta, A. K., 2006. Secondary chromosome associations in Ocimum spp. Cytologia, 71(2), 149-152. http://square.umin.ac.jp/mendel/ doi: 10.1508/cytologia.71.149

Orwa, C., Mutua, A., Kindt, R., Jamnadass, R., Simons, A., 2009. Agroforestree Database: a tree reference and selection guide. Version 4. In: Agroforestree Database: a tree reference and selection guide. Version 4 . Nairobi, Kenya: World Agroforestry Centre.http://www.worldagroforestry.org/sites/treedbs/treedatabases.asp

Oviedo Prieto, R., González-Oliva, L., 2015. National list of invasive and potentially invasive plants in the Republic of Cuba - 2015. (Lista nacional de plantas invasoras y potencialmente invasoras en la República de Cuba - 2015). Bissea: Boletín sobre Conservación de Plantas del Jardín Botánico Nacional de Cuba, 9(Special Issue No. 2), 1-88. http://repositorio.geotech.cu/jspui/bitstream/1234/1476/4/Lista%20nacional%20de%20plantas%20invasoras%20de%20Cuba-2015.pdf

Oyen, L. P. A., Nguyen Xuan Dung, 1999. Plant resources of South-East Asia No.19. Essential-oil plants, Leiden, Netherlands: Backhuys Publishers.279 pp.

Oziegbe, M., Kehinde, T. O., Matthew, J. O., 2016. Comparative reproduction mechanisms of three species of Ocimum L. (Lamiaceae). Acta Agrobotanica, 69(1), 1648. https://pbsociety.org.pl/journals/index.php/aa/article/view/aa.1648/5795

PIER, 2018. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk. In: Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: HEAR, University of Hawaii.http://www.hear.org/pier/index.html

PROSEA, 2018. Plant Resources of South-East Asia. PROSEA Foundation.http://proseanet.org/prosea/

PROTA, 2018. PROTA4U web database. In: PROTA4U web database Wageningen and Nairobi, Netherlands\Kenya: Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.https://www.prota4u.org/database/

Raju, A. J. S., 1989. Reproductive ecology of Ocimum americanum L. and O. basilicum L. (Lamiaceae) in India. Plant Species Biology, 4, 107-116. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-1984.1989.tb00052.x

Sahoo D, Kumar A, 2013. Secondary metabolites of Ocimum gratissimum and their biological activities. International Research Journal of Pharmacy, 4(8), doi: 10.7897/2230-8407.04803

Stevens, P. F., 2017. Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. Version 14. In: Angiosperm Phylogeny Website. Version 14 . St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden.http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/research/APweb/

The Plant List, 2013. The Plant List: a working list of all plant species. Version 1.1. In: The Plant List: a working list of all plant species. Version 1.1 Richmond, London, UK: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.http://www.theplantlist.org

USDA-ARS, 2018. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. In: Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory.https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysimple.aspx

Useful Tropical Plants, 2018. Useful tropical plants database. In: Useful tropical plants database : K Fern.http://tropical.theferns.info/

WCSP, 2018. World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. In: World Checklist of Selected Plant Families Richmond, London, UK: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/home.do

Distribution References

Acevedo-Rodríguez P, Strong M T, 2012. Catalogue of the Seed Plants of the West Indies. Washington, DC, USA: Smithsonian Institution. 1192 pp. http://botany.si.edu/Antilles/WestIndies/catalog.htm

Broome R, Sabir K, Carrington S, 2007. Plants of the Eastern Caribbean. Online database. In: Plants of the Eastern Caribbean. Online database. Barbados: University of the West Indies. http://ecflora.cavehill.uwi.edu/index.html

Burg W J van der, Freitas J de, Debrot A O, Lotz L A P, 2012. Naturalised and invasive alien plant species in the Caribbean Netherlands: status distribution, threats, priorities and recommendations. Report of a joint IMARES/CARMABI/PRI project. In: Naturalised and invasive alien plant species in the Caribbean Netherlands: status distribution, threats, priorities and recommendations. Report of a joint IMARES/CARMABI/PRI project. Wageningen, Netherlands: Plant Research International. 82 pp. http://www.ciasnet.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/C185-11%20Invasive%20plants%20Dutch%20Caribbean.pdf

CABI, Undated. CABI Compendium: Status inferred from regional distribution. Wallingford, UK: CABI

CABI, Undated a. CABI Compendium: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI

Flora do Brasil, 2018. Brazilian flora 2020. In: Brazilian flora 2020. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Rio de Janeiro Botanic Garden. http://floradobrasil.jbrj.gov.br

Flora Mesoamericana, 2018. Flora Mesoamericana. (Flora Mesoamericana.). In: Flora Mesoamericana. St. Louis, Missouri, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden. http://www.tropicos.org/Project/fm

Flora of China Editorial Committee, 2018. Flora of China. In: Flora of China. St. Louis, Missouri and Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA: Missouri Botanical Garden and Harvard University Herbaria. http://www.efloras.org/flora_page.aspx?flora_id=2

GRIIS, 2018. Global Register of Introduced and Invasive Species., http://www.griis.org/

India Biodiversity Portal, 2018. Online Portal of India Biodiversity. In: Online Portal of India Biodiversity. http://indiabiodiversity.org/species/list

INPN, 2018. National Inventory of Natural Heritage. (Inventaire National du Patrimoine Naturel). France: Muséum national d'histoire naturelle. https://inpn.mnhn.fr/accueil/index

Oviedo Prieto R, González-Oliva L, 2015. National list of invasive and potentially invasive plants in the Republic of Cuba - 2015. (Lista nacional de plantas invasoras y potencialmente invasoras en la República de Cuba - 2015). Bissea: Boletín sobre Conservación de Plantas del Jardín Botánico Nacional de Cuba. 9 (Special Issue No. 2), 1-88. http://repositorio.geotech.cu/jspui/bitstream/1234/1476/4/Lista%20nacional%20de%20plantas%20invasoras%20de%20Cuba-2015.pdf

PIER, 2018. Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk. In: Pacific Islands Ecosystems at Risk. Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: HEAR, University of Hawaii. http://www.hear.org/pier/index.html

Sahoo D, Kumar A, 2013. Secondary metabolites of Ocimum gratissimum and their biological activities. International Research Journal of Pharmacy. 4 (8), DOI:10.7897/2230-8407.04803

WCSP, 2018. World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. In: World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. Richmond, London, UK: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/home.do

Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

Contributors

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16/06/18 Original text by:

Julissa Rojas-Sandoval, Department of Botany-Smithsonian NMNH, Washington DC, USA

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