Caprese Salad with Mozzarella Cheese, Tomatoes And Basil Caprese Salad with Mozzarella Cheese, Tomatoes And Basil Basil is a popular ingredient in many dishes, including the classic Caprese salad. Photo: Olga Nayashkova/Shutterstock

Award-winning 'Basil Tree' provides fresh leaves for years

New perennial hybrid makes the popular herb less susceptible to pests and drought.

Enjoyed for its rich, spicy flavor with hints of mint, clove, and occasional sweetness, the basil plant has long been celebrated as one of the more popular culinary herbs in international cuisine. Like most foods, it's best enjoyed fresh – but as a naturally occurring annual with a short shelf life, basil typically dies off in cold weather. But what if a single basil plant could not only be harvested through all seasons, but also survive for five years or more? 

That's the latest advancement courtesy of Hishtil, an Israeli company that recently won a top prize at the world's largest horticultural event for its "Basil Tree." By grafting two species of basil plants together – one that produces a woody trunk and another that features aromatic, tasty leaves – Hishtil created a tree that supplies fresh leaves every month or so for several years. 

“Basil is not perennial and dies when the cold period arrives,” Hishtil's head of marketing Menny Shadmi explained in a statement, adding that the new plant can produce in a variety of conditions. “Take it out to the garden in summer and bring it inside in the winter. It will survive for five years.”

Basil Savour trees await shipment in a nursery. Photo: Basil SavourBasil trees await shipment in a nursery. (Photo: Basil Savour)

In addition to its longevity, the Hishtil Basil Tree is a boon to organic and sustainable cultivators, as it is naturally resistant to pests and drought-tolerant. 

"The Basil Tree's leaves are especially aromatic and tasty, and can be used to enrich any salad, soup or cooked dish,” the company added. "The tree is covered with pretty white flowers in the summer, and the flowers will grow even inside when the tree is exposed to sunlight."

Perhaps the only problem facing the new Basil Tree is its soaring popularity. Right now, your best bet of snagging one is at your local gardening store. In the United States, it's marketed under the moniker "Basil Savour."  

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