Ocimum bascilicum (Basil): Variations in Phytochemistry

Ocimum bascilium (basil) is a commonly consumed culinary herb, with broad leaves and a distinctive taste and aroma. The taste and aroma of basil comes partly from the essential oil that it contains. This oil is rich in phytochemicals particularly of their terpenes and their metabolites. There is considerable seasonal variation in the phytochemistry of the essential oil in basil, with significant changes between spring, summer and summer months. This change in phytochemistry reflects the seasonal variation that the plant is exposed to, particularly the light and water levels. In general, the essential oil of basil consists of linalool as the most abundant component (56.7 to 60.6 %), followed by epi-α-cadinol (8.6 to 11.4 %), α-bergamotene (7.4 to 9.2 %) and γ-cadinene (3.2 to 5.4 %). Studies show that samples collected in winter are richer in oxygenated monoterpenes (68.9 %), while those collected in summer are richer in sesquiterpene hydrocarbons (24.3 %). The time of year therefore affects the phytochemistry of basil. 

Eat Well, Stay Healthy, protect Yourself


Hussain, A. I., Anwar, F., Sherazi, S. T. H. and Przybylski, R. 2008. Chemical composition, antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of basil (Ocimum basilicum) essential oils depends on seasonal variations. Food chemistry. 108(3): 986-995

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
This entry was posted in Ocimum bascilicum (Basil), Terpenes. Bookmark the permalink.