Woodchucks, Opie and ‘the king of herbs’

I love it when critters don’t do what they are supposed to, like this ultimately laid-back woodchuck at Kirby Park yesterday.

He was so unconcerned by my presence wood that I got to within about 18 inches of him and he still wouldn’t move. He stayed there eating and I had to walk around him. Talk about a laid back grass muncher….

While 17-pound Opie, who is convinced that he’s 12-feet-tall and alpha male of all time (he will go up to Irish wolfhounds and act as if he’s in charge and, strangely, most of the times the other dogs will go along with it) climbed to the top of this rock and surveyed his kingdom and was happy with what he saw.

opierock

And in our ramblings, we ran into several zillion iterations of wild basil, called “the king of herbs,” now blooming underfoot just about any open field.

herb nutrition facts

The king of herbs basil herb is one of the ancient and popular herbal plants brimming with important health-benefiting phytonutrients. This highly prized plant revered as “holy herb” in many cultures all around the world.

Basil belongs to the family of Lamiaceae, in the genus: Ocimum. Its scientific name is “Ocimum basilicum.”

Asian basil-pink leaf basil-close up
Asian or “holy” basil (Ocimum sanctum). Large, hairy plant with pink flowers and pink leaves. Asian basil; close up view.

Basil herb is originally native to Iran, India and other tropical regions of Asia. This bushy annual herb specially grew for its medicinally useful leaves and seeds. Basil grows best in warm, tropical climates. The fully-grown plant reaches about 100 cm in height. Its leaves vary from light green to dark green and purple, smooth and silky, about 1 to 2.5 inches long and 0.5 to 1 inch broad with “opposite” arrangement. The flowers are quite large, white or purple, arranged in terminal spikes.

sweet basil
Mediterranean sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum). Note for smooth deep green leaves.

Many different subspecies of basil herb exist. The “Mediterranean” cultivar which typically known as “sweet basil” has light green leaves. In contrast, “Asian basil” (Ocimum sanctum) features large, hairy stems and stalks with pink flowers, purple or pink leaves in addition to possessing stronger “clove”-like flavor. There is also “lemon basil,” which has pleasant lemony flavor. Thai basil (O. basilicum ‘Horapha’) is similar in characteristics to Asian basil but features narrow, pointed, light green color leaves with a sweet licorice-like aroma.

The European “sweet basil” is mild and possesses sweet anise/clove flavor. For the same reason, it is also recognized as culinary basil since it is used extensively in the cuisine all over the world.

Health benefits of Basil herb

•Basil leaves hold many important plant-derived chemical compounds that are known to have disease preventing and health promoting properties.

•Basil herb contains many polyphenolic flavonoids like orientin and vicenin. These compounds were tested in-vitro laboratory for their possible antioxidant protection against radiation-induced lipid peroxidation in mouse liver.

•Basil leaves compose of many health benefiting essential oils such as eugenol, citronellol, linalool, citral, limonene, and terpineol. These compounds are known to have anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties.

•The herb is very low in calories and contains no cholesterol. Nonetheless, its is one of the finest sources of many essential nutrients, minerals, and vitamins critical to optimum health.

•Basil herb contains exceptionally high levels of beta-carotene, vitamin-A, cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin. These compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes.

•Zea-xanthin, a yellow flavonoid carotenoid compound, is selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea where it found to filter harmful UV rays from reaching the retina. Studies suggest that common herbs, fruits, and vegetables that are rich in zeaxanthin antioxidant help to protect from age-related macular disease (AMRD), especially in the older adults.

basil

Author: luzerne2112

As I get older -- and I'm 70 now -- I seem to find more and more that nature is the true source of peace, inspiration and, most of all, the truth the passeth understanding. Though my knowledge is sketchy and superficial, I wanted to share it while I can.

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