Flavorful basil for cooking now grows on trees, says Hishshtil, Israeli garden and agricultural nursery.
I’m used to growing a handful of basil sprouts in a window box, never enough for two batches of pesto (see our delicious pesto recipe here). It seems like a dream to stroll over to a tree and pluck off as many basil leaves as I need, confident that I can harvest again all year around. Hishtil’s successful graft of basil to another, strong-rooted plant has produced this green culinary wonder. Very different from rooting supermarket basil in water, as I wrote about here.
This new basil variety has natural immunity to insects, making it a pesticide-free crop. Hishtil nurseries say that the tree lives a number of years, grows well in gardens and can even be trained as bonsai, as long as it has plenty of exposure to sunlight. Hishtil recommends harvesting regularly, but no more than 1/3 of the leaves at a time, and to bring the tree indoors before winter.
In summer, the tree is covered in pretty white flowers. Normal basil flowers are edible – imagine salads sprinkled with flowers if this basil tree’s blooms are good to eat too. And it would be like having a living, green medicine chest in the garden. Tea of fresh basil leaves is excellent medicine for all digestive upsets: nausea, diarrhea, vomiting. and stomach cramps. Basil is also said to clear the head and help keep you focused.
How luxurious. Do you think it’s sustainable?
More basil, and a different kind of pesto, on Green Prophet:
Photo of Basil Tree by Hishtil.