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Renee G. Murray and James E. Simon

Essential oil content of Ocimum basilicum, cv. sweet basil, increases with plant maturity. The increase in essential oil content may correspond to the formation of glandular trichomes during leaf expansion. Greenhouse grown plants were harvested every 2 weeks. Leaves were grouped according to size, examined with a stereo microscope, and trichome densities compared. Results indicate that trichome formation continues throughout leaf expansion. In young basil plants, leaves ranged in size from 2-30cm2 Highest density (416 trichomes/cm2) occurred in leaves 2–6c m2. Prior to open bloom, leaves ranged in size from 2-49cm2. Highest density occurred in leaves 18-24c m2. In flowering plants leaves ranged in size from 2-34cm2, yet there was NSD in trichome density in leaves of different sizes. Analysis of the entire leaf surface of plants at each harvest showed the greatest density of trichomes in plants at full bloom (280 trichomes/c m2). All leaves have visible glandular trichomes. These glandular trichomes are most likely formed both prior to and during leaf expansion.