VARIATION IN CHEMICAL COMPOSITION AND MINERALS OF BASIL (Ocimum gratissimum L.)
The study was carried out at the Teaching and Research Farm of the University of Benin, Benin City. Proximate analysis was carried out at the Faculty of Agriculture laboratory to determine the nutritional components of ocicum gratissimum. The experiment was laid out in a randomized complete block design with three replicates. Each block was divided into twenty-three rows with 0.6m between the rows. Four Ocimum gratissimum varieties were evaluated: G040220, G040221, G270114 and G250119. The variables measured for this study include: moisture content, ash content, crude protein, crude fibre and carbohydrate content and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, Iron and potassium. These variables were measured using their percentage composition. It was observed that there were significant differences among the varieties studied. Variety G040220 had the highest MC value and it is comparable to G040221 but significantly different from the others. Variety G040221 and G040220 had the highest crude fibre percentage values and were significantly different the others. Variety G250109 having higher crude protein indicates that it was improved to absorb more nitrogen from the soil. Variety G250109 was also observed to have higher carbohydrate and fat content. Therefore, it is recommended for farmers for higher nutritional performance.
Ocimum L. is a member of the labiatae family. The typical characteristics of this family are square stem, opposite and decussate leaves with many gland dots. The flowers are strongly zygormorphic with two distinct lips. Many of the family, particularly subfamily Neptoideas to which ocimum belongs, are strongly aromatic due to essential oils which consist of monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes and phenylpropanoids.
Ocimum unlike other economically important herbs in the labiatae such as Rosmarinus, thymus and salvia, belongs to tribe ocimae which has declinate stamens.that is stamens lie over the lower[anterior]lip of the corolla rather than ascending under the upper [posterior]lip.
Ocimum was best described by Linnaeus in 1753 who listed five species .Benthamrecognised just under 40 species and divided ocimum into threesections .ocimum [ocymodon benth] with appendiculate posterior stamens;Hierocymum benth with hairs at the base of the posterior stamens and gynmnocium benth with glabrous posterior stamens.The latter two sections contained a few species which are now placed in EndostemonN.E.BR, a genus bentham didn’t recognise or hemizygia. Bentham  then subdivided section section ocimum [ocymodon] into three subsections on the basis of calyx morphology. In subset , ocimum [basilica sensu briquette 1897] the throat of the calyx is open and bearded in subsect. Gratissima the throat is closed by the median lobe of the lower lip,subsection hiantia benth, with truncate lateral calyx lobes, only included species which are sometimes placed in becium [Sebald 1988,1989,paton 1995].Bentham also added sect ,hemizygia benth. Which briquette  considered to be a separate genus on account of the fused anterior stamens. Paton  in his revision of African species of ocimum recognised around thirty  species and used bentham  infragenic classification of ocimum, with sect hemizygia and subset , hiantia removed, preferring to consider the latter as the separate genus becium. This classification is supported by nutlet characters which bentham did not and by analysis of pollen morphology [Harley et al, 1992]. However this classification is not entirely without problems, as pointed out [Paton 1992] ocimum drdnatum A.J.paton doesn’t fit neatly into the existing categories.ocimum lamiifolium is also anomalous , appearing to have a close relationship to orthosiphon subgenus nautochilus [Bremek.]codd. Pushpangadan [1974,pushpangadan and bradu 1995,sobti and pushpangadan 1979] formulated a different infragenic classification The ‘Basilicum’ group contains herbaceous annuals or sometimes or sometimes perennials with black , ellipsoid, strongly mucilaginous seeds and with a basic chromosome number of n=12 whereas the ‘sanctum’ group are perennial shrubs with brown globose non-mucilaginous or weakly seeds and a basic chromosome number of n=8.the basilicum group contains only section ocimum subsection ocimum. The remainder of the genus must be placed in the sanctum group. This classification is commonly used in the economic and industrial literature ,e.g barrah, pushpangadan and bradu  whereas bentham system is the basis for that used in taxonomic literature. Economically the most important taxon within ocimum is section ocimum .the most heavily used species are o.basilicum, o.americanum, and their hybrid o x citriodorum. These species are use d for essential oil production and as pot herbs. O.kilmandscharicumis extensively grown in the tropics for camphor production .O.gratissimum is grown for the essential oil in its leaves and stems. Eugenol and to a lesser extent thymol extracted from the oil are substitutes for clove oil and thyme oil. The whole plant and essential oil have many applications in traditional medicine, especially in Africa and india. Preparations from the whole plant are used as stomachic and in treating sunstroke, headache and influenza .the seeds are have laxative properties and are prescribed against gonorrhoea. the essential oil is applied against fever inflammations of the throat. In Indonesia [Sumatra] a tea is made from the leaves , while in Thailand the leaves are applied as a flavouring. In Indonesia the eugenol-type of o.gratissimum is used in the ceremonial washing of corpses and is planted in graveyards. In india o.gratissimum named ‘ram tulsi’ is widely used in religious ceremonies and rituals.
Information on proximate analysis of basil is beneficial for nutrition and medicinal benefits to man and formulation of a well balanced feed for livestocks..
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