Essential oils were extracted from leaves, flowers, and stems of Ocimum basilicurn, O. kilimandscharicum, and O. micranthum by solvent extraction, hydrodistillation, and steam distillation for essential oil content and the oil analyzed by GC and GC/MS for composition. While the yield of essential oil was consistently higher from steam distillation than hydrodistillation, a similar number of compounds was recovered from both hydrodistillation and steam distillation. Though the relative concentration of the major constituents was similar by both methods, the absolute amounts were higher with steam distillation. Essential oil content and composition varied by plant species and plant part. Essential oil content was highest in flowers for O. basilicum and in leaves for O. micranthum. No significant differences were observed in essential oil yield and relative concentration of major constituents using fresh or dry samples and using samples from 75 g to 10 g of dry plant tissue. While minor differences between hydrodistillation and steam distillation were observed, both methods resulted in high yields and good recovery of essential oil constituents. Hydrodistillation is a more-rapid and simpler technique than steam and permits the extraction of essential oil where steam is not accessible.
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