Basil, or Ocimum basilicum is an aromatic plant, with a wide range of fragrances (depending on the variety). The leaves may taste like anise, with a strong smell. The most common type is sweet basil, but there is also thai basil, lemon basil and holy basil.
In cooking, add it at the last moment, as cooking quickly destroys the flavor. Fresh basil can be used whole, chopped, made into a paste or dried. Basil will keep if dry and refrigerated, but should be used up within a week. When soaked in water, the seeds of several basil varieties become gelatinous.