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Can anyone identify this bee friendly herb? Type of salvia?


I just bought these flowering herb shrubs at an auction- bees love them! I want to know what they are before I plant them so I can research what they like. Very strong basil(ish)smelling, white flowers that look basil like- smallish leaves:


Thai basil, perhaps?



Looking at the leaves n flower structure… It looks similar to either marjoram or oragano herb. Not sure what sub-species … I guess your bees will be going nuts over it !

I’ve found most herbs wildly attract a lot of bees n pollenators. Hope this gets you closer to you exact answer. Pick a few leaves n bruise them by rubbing between your fingers … Does it have a strong herbal bouquet ?! I’m guessing it should if it’s oragano/marjoram family. I use a lot of fresh herbs in cooking n the leaves look

Good luck,


I’m now thinking it’s either camphor or cinnamon basil- or some very similar perennial basil.


To me the flowers are not right for oregano or Thai basil. Oregano flowers are usually pink and rounder, without the extended lower petal of your plant. The flower shape is perfect for basil, but Thai basil tends to have purplish flowers.

Given the woody lower stems, I would go for a perennial Basil. There are a couple of different types, and they are all highly aromatic. Smell like basil, but stronger scent. I have a perennial African Blue Basil plant which is covered in blue flowers and bees year-round, so I am sure that your bees will love this white one!

You can easily make more by taking some 15cm cuttings of the non-woody stems. Take off the flowers and lower leaves from the cuttings and stand in a jar of water inside, on a bright windowsill (not direct sun, though). There should be no leaves below the water. Within a week, you should see roots. When the roots are about 3-5cm long, gently transfer the cuttings to a pot with seedling compost in it. Now you have free plants, which will continue to keep your bees happy. :blush:


@Semaphore, I agree with @Dawn_SD - it isn’t Thai basil (I have that in my garden so am confident on that front). I’ve got no real clue what it is but the leaves make me think it might be native basil (http://www.outbackpridefresh.com.au/product-list/native-basil/)


If you have a smart phone, download the “plantnet” app, with the app you can take a picture of the flower and if it’s in the database it will tell you. it’s a relatively new app so the database is still growing someone may see it and know what it is.


really? wow- there’s an app for everything! I wonder if it will be able to differentiate between the various types of basil. Today I looked at a lot of photos and found 4 separate types of basil with flowers that look virtually indistinguishable.


I think the biggest clue is in the anthers. The flowers are definitely basil family. However, not many anthers have orange tips even when compact. Some start white, then go orange as they ripen (Lime basil, for example), but being brownish orange from the compact stage (like yours) is not something I have found yet. I feel that is a big clue to the identity. :wink:


My guess is Ocimum basilicum, or common name greek basil.


I think we can all agree it is some type of perennial basil :wink: I planted them all out today- some in pots and others in the ground. I mulched everywhere around them with pine needles (does basil like slightly acidic soils? hope so) They should absolutely take off in spring. I will make some cuttings this afternoon too @Dawn_SD though most of the branches are already on the more woody side. Hopefully they will take. I’ll also collect the seeds if they are viable- and plant them everywhere!


I am no expert, but my African Blue Basil is a hybrid and the seeds are known to be sterile. :astonished: Fortunately the cuttings are incredibly easy to root. If you can’t find non-woody stems, just take the greenest ones you can find. The browner ones probably won’t root well. By the way, I have tried rooting hormone with these basil plants, and if anything it inhibits rooting. They don’t need it. :blush:

Photo of my cuttings:

They are all 4 to 5 foot wide bushes now, about 2 feet tall and covered with bees! :smile:

Here is a slightly more detailed article by Hilary Kearney’s beekeeping assistant:


It appears to have a square stem. That means it is in the mint family. I believe it is a salvia…and yes, bees love al salvia Spp.


The flowers aren’t quite right for a salvia - the anthers are hanging too low. Salvia anthers are positioned to daub the bee’s back with pollen. :blush:


i agree with Dawn 50, surrently no oregano.


I think for me the giveaway is the smell: basil. It’s stronger smelling than sweet basil- almost spicy- but definitely a basil type smell. The leaves are also right for basil.


spicy globe basil (im not sure about the flowering) there are so many variaeties.


Heck yah !

Get the microscope out … Do a cross section. :wink::exclamation:️:+1:. But I really don’t care. If the bees like it, I like it ! End of story … :smile::sunglasses::+1:. That’s my two bits …

And your correct … It sure ain’t Thai Basil. It purple flowers n leave n stem highlights n further more I’ve eaten half my weight in that herb eating Pho thi gan sạch n More … All my Vn family eats tons of Thai Basil. Way too cold up here to be a growing exdrip/spert ! In southern n tropical stuff.


Howdy Jerry,

yup: ultimately I don’t care what exact type of perennial basil it is- all I need to know is that is smells great, is pretty, and the bees love it! It’s interesting though- I had no idea there were so many basil varieties. I would also like to know the exact type so I can see if it’s good for cooking- I have a feeling it will be. I took ten cuttings from the ones I got and so far 3 of them have roots already. I plan to take many, many more cuttings in spring and to plant these things everywhere!


Greek Basil Ocimum basilicum