When you look at the packets of herbs on a supermarket shelf and see mint, parsley, thyme, marjoram, basil and others it is easy to forget that these herbs grow in our own countryside. Not always the cultivated varieties of course but none the less related and often the source of the cultivated strain. So it is with wild basil (Clinopodium vulgare).
As with many of these herbs basil is a member of the labiate family, otherwise known as deadnettles; it is part of a sub-family of calamints. They generally have trumpet shaped flowers, in the case of wild basil this is purple-pink, square stems and downy, veined, oval, opposite pairs of leaves with a serrated edge. Wild basil grows to about a foot tall although in favourable conditions it can grow taller and flowers from July to September in dry grassy places; usually on lime or chalk.
As with many of its relatives, in addition to its culinary value it is considered a herbal remedy for a number of conditions stimulating the heart to healing wounds to reducing flatulence. A tea made from the leaves is both tasty and, it seems, a cure for many ills. Just what the doctor ordered!