ISSUE 29  |  A La Plage

A Garden Gem: Purple Basil

July 20, 2012 5:00 PM

BY Janet Hall

My new favorite garden jewel is the deep purple basil recently added to my otherwise green collection of herbs.

It all started over a drink. I was served a summer cocktail garnished with a mysterious dark purple sprig that caught my attention. The fragrant sprig was Amethyst Basil. I decided then and there to make a spot for this plant in my tiny herb garden. Here are four different purple basil varieties to consider.

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Above: The only purple Genovese-type basil, Amethyst Basil has large, thick turned down leaves similar to the well-known Sweet Genovese Basil; $4.50 for a 2.5-inch pot at Pantry Garden Herbs.

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Above: Purple Dark Opal Basil offers a slightly spicier, almost licorice or anise flavor. The leaves are upright and have some green; $4.50 for a 2.5-inch pot at Pantry Garden Herbs. Purple Dark Opal Basil Seeds are available for $1.75 per packet at D. Landreth Seed Co.

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Above: Another purple-colored basil variety is Red Rubin Basil with a clove-like spiciness flavor. It is more uniform in color than other purple basils; $4.50 for a 2.5 inch pot at Pantry Garden Herbs. Red Rubin Basil Seeds are available for $3.45 per packet of 100 at Johnny’s Seeds.

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Above: Purple Ruffles Basil has crinkled leaves with ruffled edges. This is said to be a complex flavored basil with a combination of sweet basil, anise and cinnamon. Great to add to salads. It can grow in shadier areas than sweet basil; $3.45 for a packet of 100 seeds at Johnny’s Seeds.


Above: Purple Basil Lemonade, recipe and photo via Cooking Light.