The Latin name for basil is Ocimum basilicum, which loosely translated means "a fragrance fit for a king." (It is pronounced OH-see-mum bah-SIL-ih-kum). Basil is in the mint family of plants and there are 60 species of annuals, perennials and shrubs, native to Africa and tropical and subtropical regions of the Old and New World… Downy mildew of basil presents as yellow-green angular spots on the upper leaf surfaces with white-to-gray fuzzy spores developing on the undersides of the leaves. To the naked eye, it may appear like dust or soil. Under a microscope, these spores look like small bunches of branched hairs. The older leaves on a plant are affected first and the disease proceeds up the stem, affecting newer growth… At Rutgers, the commonly planted (or straight species) sweet basil was found to be far more susceptible than others. Red leaf varieties, as well as lemon basil, lime basil, Thai basil and spice basil, exhibit fewer symptoms and may provide the basis for a breeding program for disease resistant plants and seeds… But if you are interested in getting an early glimpse into what the team has accomplished, visit the Great Tomato Tasting at Rutgers Snyder Research Farm in Pittstown on Aug. 26.
/ / Basil Crops Succumbing to Downy Mildew