Please remember that Forage Friday is presented as trivia and not to be mistaken for medical advice.
A little skipper butterfly first drew my attention to the small purple flowers that seemed to be stuck in pincushions growing under a barbed wire fence. The cluster of small hairy plants reminded me of something from a Dr. Seuss landscape in one of his books. The aroma and square stem let’s me know that this is one of the mints. The flavor is also minty with a peppery undertone. This is wild Basil. But it’s not really the same as Basil from the herb section of a grocery store or the infamous garden herb. Both are in the mint family and the flavor is close enough to Holy Basil that they’re used in similar ways. I’ve not looked it up specifically but it’s a bit of a “no brainer” that in tough times wild basil would have been used to flavor meats and stews. I can easily imagine people of my grandfather’s generation sweeping the edges of the Appalachian forests and collecting wild basil along with the other herbs of mid to late summer. Some would be used fresh and the rest hung to cure on a wire where the wind could help dry them but the sun and rain couldn’t ruin them. The leaves would be broken up and perhaps the stem would be ground to a powder. The end product was stored in a Mason jar or repurposed tobacco tin for winter uses.
The plant is astringent and could have used to treat skin irritation. It’s considered to be a cardiostimulant in traditional medicine. Old time doctors would have recommended this plant to aid in digestion and since it’s got at least some eugenol it may have been part of a compound for managing blood sugar. Although I can’t really confirm that at this time. It’s listed as an expectorant which means it’s believed to help aid in expelling phlegm. It’s not really hard to imagine a family member with a cough being fed a broth that contains a good amount of any of the mints and especially ones like wild sage and wild basil. Such home remedies were prevalent in the post Civil War Era when the South was still rebuilding.
That’s it for tonight’s Forage Friday. Good night friends and be blessed throughout your days.
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3 thoughts on “Forage Friday #120. Wild Basil”
Love your description of Holy Basil, “minty with peppery undertones.” Sounds like a delightful herb! Blessings!
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Thank you 😊! Holy Basil is regular Basil though. The wild plant is not really a type of Basil but it kinda tastes like it.
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You are welcome! 😊
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