Thai Basil (Ocimum basilicum var. thyrsiflora) is a spicy, anise-liquorice flavoured basil, which is also known as horapa in the Thai language. With their lovely purple stems and purple-veined leaves on a shiny, dark green background, these plants are not only grown for their culinary uses but also as ornamental specimens.
Thai Basil is widely used in the cuisines of Southeast Asia, including Thai, Vietnamese, Lao and Cambodian cuisines. It is best when eaten raw—in fact, a plate of raw Thai Basil leaves is often served as an accompaniment to the Vietnamese dish called pho.
The plant is said to have the ability to convey good fortune to its user while also protecting him or her from evil spirits. If a leaf is placed in one's pocket, it will cause money to enter one's pocket soon thereafter.
Roman Chamomile is a perennial, small and creeping plant with daisy-like flowers. The plant has a wonderful, sweet, fruity scent and is commonly used to make herbal infusions for medicinal uses.
While it is probably the most popular and well-known therapeutic plant, chamomile is also a popular ingredient in a number of magical rituals. When it comes to deities, chamomile is linked to Cernunnos, Ra, Helios, and other sun gods. At the same time, the Vikings had a more practical use for chamomile, adding it to their hair shampoos to aid in the lightening of blond hair.
In a number of folk magic traditions, particularly those of the American south, chamomile is known as a lucky flower and, if you're a gambler, washing your hands in chamomile tea will ensure good luck at the gaming tables.
Lavender is a perennial flowering plant native to the Mediterranean. Munstead Blue, in particular, is its compact, early blooming, English variety, with bluish-purple flowers above slender, aromatic, grey-green leaves.
First introduced in 1916 by the garden designer Gertrude Jekyll, and named after her house Munstead Wood in Surrey, England, this variety is a great choice for containers and is widely used in cooking as a condiment for salads, soups, stews.
It provides a very aromatic flavour that is too strong to be used in large quantity. Its fresh or dried flowers are used to make tea, while the fresh flowers can be crystallized or added to jams, ice cream and vinegars. An essential oil is also made from the flowers for both culinary and therapeutic purposes.
Nigella, also known as Black Cumin, is an annual, flowering plant native to Asia and the Middle East.
Its wispy, elegant, blue flowers look stunning in any garden or balcony arrangement and, if you can resist picking the delicate blooms, the seed pods that develop from the flowers are equally glorious. In fact, the seeds are the edible part of the plant and are widely used in Indian, Middle Eastern and Slavic cooking for their strong aroma and spicy taste. If you ever enjoyed Turkish bread and wondered what the tasty little black seed on top of it was—it’s Nigella. It’s hard to believe that such a delicate little flower packs such a flavourful punch, indispensable in Indian and Asian cuisine.