Wild basil

Clinopodium vulgare

Wild basil

Family: Lamiaceae

Other Common Names: basil savory
Weed class: B
Year Listed: 2022
Native to: Europe, Western Asia, and Northern Africa.
Is this Weed Toxic?:

not known to be

Why Is It a Noxious Weed?

Quickly outcompetes all forest groundcover, creating a monoculture.

How would I identify it?

General Description

Wild basil is a very hairy mint species. 

Flower Description

Dense clusters of pink to purple flowers, growing at the top of leaf pairs. Typical mint flower shape, of two lobes curving down, two lobes going out on both sides, and lobes curving up.

Leaf description

Hairy, pointed egg shaped, growing in opposite pairs along the stem, with shallow, blunt serrated margins.

Stem description

Square, hairy, and relatively thin.

Fruit Seed Description

Very small, brown seeds that are housed in the aging hairy calyx clusters.

May Be Confused With

Most similar looking mints, which grow in Washington, are much taller or otherwise look very different from C. vulgare.

Clinopodium douglasii, native yerba buena has similar looking flowers, the vegetation is scarcely hairy, and it does not have dense clusters of calyxes (Burke Herbarium).

Non-native, Lamium purpureum, purple dead-nettle has very red-purple pigmented leaves, which lay closely on each other, as well has not having the dense clusters of flowers that C. vulgare possesses (Burke Herbarium).

Self-heal, Prunella vulgaris, which has native and introduced varieties and subspecies, have cooler, more purple flowers, which grow from taller, more pyramidal flowering clusters. The calyxes of these flowering clusters, along with the stems and leaves of the plant, are much less hairy than C. vulgare (Burke Herbarium). Native varieties of P. vulgaris grow in open prairies and grasslands, while the introduced varieties are frequent garden escapees in urban and suburban areas.

Where does it grow?

A variety of habitats, though mostly forests, forest edges, and disturbed areas, especially in drier areas.

How Does it Reproduce?

Seed and rhizome

How Do I Control It?

Pull or dig out, removing all root runners.

Contact your county noxious weed coordinator for information on control and herbicide use.

For More Information

Our written findings on wild basil.

Additional Photos