045 `African Beauty': A New Ornamental Camphor Basil

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  • 1 Center for New Crops and Plant Products, Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907

`African Beauty', a new ornamental camphor basil cultivar, was developed through three cycles of selfing and selection from USDA accession PI 500942, originally collected in Zambia, Africa. `African Beauty' was field-evaluated and compared with PI 500942 (the original population), PI 500954 (another accession from Zambia), a camphor cultivar from Companion Plants, and three other related lines in 1997 and 1998. Most commercial camphor basils are tall (50 to 60 cm), late-flowering, and unattractive. Our goal was to develop a new cultivar that had a short stature (≈40 cm), an early flowering, and an attractive appearance. The outcome was `African Beauty', which has the following characteristics: plant height: 30 to 35 cm, plant spread: 50 to 55 cm, leaf length: 6.3 to 6.7 cm, days to flower: 76 days, inflorescence length: 25 cm, essential oil yield: 3 mL/100 g dw. The essential oil of `African Beauty' is also highly aromatic, with 72% camphor, 12% camphene, and 9% limonene. The plant is a fast-growing, semicompact aromatic plant that produces small leaves and large quantities of long and slender inflorescences that, when fully developed, curve at the tip like the tail of a cat. Blooming usually lasts from 20 to 25 days, when the plant looks most beautiful. `African Beauty' is an attractive ornamental that would be excellent as a garden border plant, or as an indoor potted plant.

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