Friday, March 18, 2016

Variety Spotlight - Corsican Basil

Corsican Basil, July 20
I've spied the very first signs of life from the basil seeds that I sowed the other day and it occurred to me that I should do a Spotlight post about the basil variety that I enjoyed the most last year. Corsican Basil is a variety that I had never heard of before I chose it as a free packet of seeds when I placed an order for various garden supply items at Peaceful Valley. I really didn't have any particular expectations about the culinary quality of this basil, it looked pretty and I figured that if I didn't like the flavor that I could just let it bloom and feed the good bugs. It took me a while to get around to getting them into the garden, but once they were set in place they took off.

August 4
I planted a few plants around one end of the bed where the cucumbers, butternut squash, and eggplant were growing. The plants turned out to be vigorous and fairly tall, a bit rangy with long stems and leaves that are smaller than the no-name green basil varieties that are typically offered at stores and farmer's markets around here. And quite different from what has been my favorite basil for a few years now - Profumo di Genova.
August 6
The big surprise was that it turned out to be a lovely sweet tasting basil, not too spicy and not strongly licorice flavored - it has a nice balance of flavors. Of course this is purely subjective based on what my taste preferences are. I had expected it to be more assertive, like a Thai basil which it looks similar to. I found that when I went to the garden to harvest basil for various uses that I more often than not chose this one. I loved the flavor and I loved the color.

October 1
Another thing that I like about Corsican Basil is that it rebounds very nicely after a hard trim. I had intended to allow the plant shown back on August 6 to just bloom away for the good bugs, but it got to be too big and was crowding out the eggplant so I cut it back quite hard. Any other basil subjected to that sort of drastic trim would have likely died, but this plant recovered and produced lots of tender new growth.

October 19
My favorite plant to harvest from was one tucked into the back side of the bed wedged between the cucumbers and the butternut squash. It kept putting out new shoots as I kept cutting them out so I was able to enjoy its leaves over the course of at least 4 months.

October 1
So these highly productive plants kept me and the bees and other good bugs happy well beyond the date that the other basils in the garden, other than the African Blue, had succumbed to old age. I'm really looking forward to another season with Corsican Basil in the garden.

November 12
Even though this is a somewhat obscure variety the seeds are not difficult to find, a quick search through the Mother Earth News Seed Finder turned up 5 sources. So if you have room in your garden you might want to give this lovely tasty resilient basil a try.


  1. What an interesting basil! The flavor profile sounds like it would be useful in a lot of things, and I think it's pretty enough to be grown as an ornamental. I'll add it to my grow list. I'm also a fan of Profuma di Genova, and I am thinking it is about time to start some basil here.

  2. It definitely is pretty enough to place in an ornamental border. Since my downy mildew disaster, I'm a bit reticent to grow anything other than Eleonora, but I'll add this one to my grow list anyhow; I'm sure at some point I'll venture to trying other varieties again.

  3. I found this wonderful basil a few years ago and love it. It is beautiful as well as making great pesto. Also looks good in a flower arrangement.
    Dot Maley, Milpitas
    March 18, 2016

  4. I don't know that one. Practically the only purple Basil you see over here is "Purple Opal". Generally I have been less than impressed with the flavour of the purple Basil, so it's interesting to see you write about yours in such glowing terms. I wonder what pesto made with purple Basil would be like....?

  5. Interesting! This is for the first time I see that kind of basil. That's almost similar to Red Rubin basil.


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