Part 1: Vegetative and Inflorescence Morphology (Whole plant structure, Stem modifications, Types of roots, Life forms, Leaf arrangement, Leaf parts, Leaf venation, Leaf lobing, Compound leaves, Lamina shape, tips, bases, and edges, Surface terms, Inflorescences); Part 2: Floral and Fruit Morphology
In this laboratory, you will learn (or re-learn) the morphology of vascular plants. As a review, recall that vascular plants include two groups of non-seed-bearing vascular plants, the lycophytes and the ferns sensu lato (including horsetails), as well as the seed plants. The latter include the gymnosperms (the conifers and other seed-bearing but not flower-bearing vascular plants), and the angiosperms, or flowering plants. In this laboratory we will emphasize the terms used to describe the vegetative and reproductive morphology of flowering plants. Many of the illustrations used in this laboratory are from The Jepson Manual , Vascular Plants of California 2012 edition glossary and are used with the permission of UC Press.
Part 1. Vegetative and Inflorescence Morphology
Station 1. Whole plant structure
Differences between roots, stems, and leaves:
Often, the most important differences between roots, stems, and leaves are those that cannot be seen by the naked eye. They are anatomical, developmental, and functional differences. When faced with an unfamiliar plant, it is often difficult to decide what is root, what is stem, and what is leaf.
Stems are the local “mode of transport” in plants. Being sessile organisms, plants cannot get up and move around. Plants explore the atmosphere with their stems and or leaves. Stems provide structural support for the leaves, and in the case of trees and vines, stems can travel a good distance from the original starting point of a plant. Within stems are tissues that transport water and nutrient throughout the plant. The places along a stem where leaves emerge are called nodes. The regions between nodes are called internodes. Unlike many roots, stems are usually colored.
Leaves differ from stems in function. They are usually the main location of photosynthesis, the process where sunlight is converted to carbohydrates via the molecule chlorophyll (the green pigment in plants). However, there are colorless underground leaves (on rhizomes) or leaves that are modified into spines that do not photosynthesize. The small leaves that occur in the inflorescence (the flowering parts) are often called bracts.
Often, in the angle between the leaf base and the stem (the leaf axil) there is a little protuberance called a bud. The bud consists of very young shoot tissue that may become a branch or an inflorescence (flowering branch). The presence of buds is a good way to determine where a leaf begins. The small, brownish, overlapping structures that cover the over-wintering buds of woody plants are modified leaves called bud scales. Note: unopened flowers are called flower buds, but they are not covered with bud scales.
Roots absorb water, minerals, and nutrients from the soil, and they anchor the plant to the ground or other substrate. They often lack coloration, but sometimes they may be highly colored (carrots for example). They lack leaves, nodes, and internodes. Roots are often found at the very bottom of the plant, below the soil level. However, they can also emerge from stem tissue – often at nodes (think of the ivy plants that you see around town – their roots anchor their climbing stems to the walls of fences or houses).
Examine the mustard plant and woody branch at Station 1. Identify the following plant regions or parts of the mustard plant and woody branch:
a) stem b) root c) leaf (or leaf scar – where the leaf was attached) d) node e) internode f) leaf axil g) axillary bud (this may be hard to see on the mustard plant unless it is beginning to expand into a branch or inflorescence).
Station 2. Stem modifications
Stems can be modified in many ways. The following are only a few examples:
Wood: The most common change that occurs in stems is secondary growth (as opposed to primary elongation growth), which is the thickening of stems by the addition of vascular tissue – commonly called “wood”. Plants that live one year may become “woody” towards the end of the growing season, especially towards the base of the plant. Trees and shrubs that live for many years usually have woody stems.
Stem succulents: Stem succulents, such as cacti, are stems that are modified for water storage. Cacti are desert plants that store water in their stems during the rainy season, so that they have a water supply for the dry season. The spines on cacti are modified leaves.
Rosettes: Sometimes a stem has very short internodes with many leaves clustered together; these stem regions are called “rosettes”. Many winter annuals form a rosette at ground-level in the fall and then continue to grow in the spring. Some perennial herbs put out a rosette of basal leaves each spring and then an inflorescence. Dandelions are a good example of a perennial herb that is a rosette plant. Agaves are perennials with rosettes that last for many years.
Stolons are above-ground lateral stems that leap-frog from one rooted node to the next. Stoloniferous plants are generally perennial herbs. Strawberries are the classic example of a stoloniferous herb. We have a false strawberry plant for you to examine. Note that the stolon has nodes and internodes. At each node, there is one leaf, and in the axil of the leaf there is a shoot that becomes an upright rosette stem, bearing many leaves clustered together. These little rosettes can become independent strawberry plants. From the leaf axils of the rosettes arise new stolons.
The following are examples of underground stems that are typical of perennial herbs. Perennial herbs die back to underground structures during part of the year.
Rhizomes are usually horizontal stems that travel beneath the ground. They give rise to shoots at their nodes that emerge above the ground. Ferns and irises have slow-growing rhizomes with very short internodes. Other rhizomes grow more quickly and have longer internodes. Some rhizomes bear colorless leaves underground. Rhizomes can act as over-wintering storage stems.
Corms are very short, upright, underground storage stems. A good example is the underground stem of blue dicks (Dichelostemma capitatum).
Tubers are enlarged underground storage stems such as potatoes. How do you know that this is a stem and not a root? (hint: what are the potato eyes?)
Bulbs are very short, upright, underground stems with very short nodes bearing fleshy storage leaves or buds. Typical bulbs are onions and garlic. In an onion the leaves act as storage organs, while in garlic, it is the axillary buds that have become fleshy storage organs. Examine the cut onion. Find the short stem at the base of the bulb, and note that most of the bulb consists of the fleshy leaves.
Station 3: Types of roots
The first root that develops on a seedling is called the primary root. In dicotyledons and gymnosperms this root develops into a tap root that grows downward and gives rise to branch roots (lateral roots); the tap root and its laterals are collectively called the tap root system. In monocotyledons (grasses – for example), the primary root is usually short-lived, and the roots that subsequently develop and persist arise from the lower part of the plant stem. Stem-borne roots (also called adventitious roots) give rise to a fibrous root system. Stem-borne roots are also common in rhizomatous and stoloniferous plants, and they are present in some climbing plants, such as ivy and orchids. Some perennial dicotyledons have tap roots that are modified into storage tap roots such as those found in carrots. In the case of sweet potato, fibrous roots are modified into storage roots called “root tubers”.
Examine the roots at Station 3. Using the drawings and descriptions above, decide what root types are present.
Station 4. Life forms
Life form terms:
Annual – a plant that lives only one year
Biennial – a plant that lives for two years
Perennial – a plant that lives for three or more years (sometimes people use this loosely for plants that live for two or more years). Note*** In the Jepson Manual, the term “perennial” refers to perennial herbs only.
Tree – a perennial woody plant of considerable stature at maturity with one or a few main trunks. A rather loosely used but fairly well understood concept.
Shrub – a woody perennial plant, smaller than a tree, usually with several basal stems.
Herb – a plant whose above-ground growth is mostly herbaceous (non-woody) and therefore dies back at the end of the growing season. Annual herbs last only one season, with the whole plant dying. Perennial herbs have persistent stems (or roots) either underground (for example rhizomes, bulbs, or corms) or just at the soil surface (for example stolons or short rosette stems).
Examine the pictures of plants on the table at Station 4 that illustrate the above life form terms.
Station 5. Leaf arrangement (phyllotaxis)
Leaves may emerge at nodes singly, in pairs, or in whorls.
If they arise singly, they are called alternate leaves.
If they arise in pairs, they are called opposite leaves.
If they arise in whorls of 3 or more, the are called whorled leaves.
If leaves are closely arranged at the base of an upright stem they are called basal.
If the leaves emerge in 2 lines along the stem, they are called 2-ranked.
If the leaves emerge in 4 lines along the stem, they are called 4-ranked.
The most common way for alternate leaves to emerge is in an alternate spiral, although many grasses have leaves that are alternate and 2-ranked.
Examine the material available, and decide if the leaf arrangements are alternate, opposite, whorled, or basal. Note: Sometimes in new stems, the leaves emerge very close together (the internodes on new branches are short). In these situations, it is often difficult to determine the phyllotaxis by examining the leafy stems, and one needs to look at the rest of the plant. Look at a leafless stem – how could you determine the original phyllotaxis by looking at the bud arrangement and branching pattern?
Station 6. Leaf parts
The basic parts of a leaf are the base, the petiole (stalk), and the lamina (blade). The leaf base or petiole base sometimes has small leafy structures attached to it that are called stipules. When leaves lack a petiole, they are called sessile.
Examine the leaves in front of you and identify the basic parts of each leaf; also, decide which leaves are petiolate, which are sessile, which are stipulate, and which are exstipulate (without stipules). Note: Most of the fresh leaves we have provided at this station do not have good examples of stipules. The terminal bud of Magnolia is actually covered by a stipule (an outgrowth of the leaf base), rather than by overlapping bud scales. The Ficus leaves also have small stipules that fall off easily. Look at the herbarium specimens that we have provided to see other examples of stipules. Also, when looking that the compound leaves of Vicia and Trifolium at Station 9, note the well developed stipules at their petiole bases.
Station 7. Leaf venation
Look carefully at the veins on the leaves in front of you. There are many possible patterns. The minor veins of leaves (the small veins that are difficult to see) can usually be described as either parallel or branching. Sometimes branching veins rejoin at their tips, and this is known as a reticulate or netted pattern.
Sometimes it is useful to speak of only the pattern of the largest leaf veins. Look at the leaves on the table and using the illustrations below, decide if the major leaf veins are parallel, pinnate, or palmate.
Station 8. Leaf lobing
Leaf laminas often become lobed or dissected in distinctive ways (a leaf with an unlobed lamina is called an entire leaf). The pattern of lobing usually follows the pattern of the main leaf veins. If the primary (or main) veins of the lamina are palmately arranged, the main lobes of the lamina will be arranged in a palmate fashion, and the leaf is called palmately lobed. Likewise, if the primary veins of the lamina are pinnate, the main lobes of the lamina will be pinnate, and the leaf is called pinnately lobed. If the lobing of the leaves is very deep and the segments are small, the leaf blade lobing is sometimes referred to as dissected.
Examine the leaves in front of you and decide if the laminas are palmately or pinnately lobed, cleft, parted, divided, or dissected.
Station 9. Compound leaves
Compound versus simple leaves:
Sometimes a leaf lamina is separated into smaller segments that themselves resemble leaves. Leaves of this type are called compound leaves, and the small leaf-like segments are called leaflets. Leaves that are not divided into segments are called simple leaves. In order to decide if you have a compound leaf or a simple leaf, remember to locate your landmarks – leaf axil, bud, petiole, lamina (which may be divided into segments).
Types of compound leaves:
Compound leaves may be grouped into two categories similar to those we discussed above: palmately compound (where the leaflets are arranged palmately and all attach together at the same point) and pinnately compound (where the leaflets are arranged pinnately along an axis called a rachis). If a pinnately compound leaf has a terminal leaflet, it is called odd-pinnate, and if it has an lacks a terminal leaflet, it is called even-pinnate; these terms are somewhat confusing, because an odd-pinnate leaf may not actually have an odd number of leaflets. Compound leaves may be just once compound or subdivided one or more times (two to three times compound). In the case of pinnately compound leaves, one can say 1-pinnate, 2-pinnate, etc.
Compound leaves with three leaflets:
In the case of leaves with three leaflets, you will sometimes see the terms palmately trifoliolate (or ternate) and pinnately trifoliolate. The difference between these two situations is that there is a small rachis in pinnately trifoliolate leaves and no rachis in palmately trifoliolate leaves.
Examine the leaves in front of you and decide if they are pinnately or palmately compound. If pinnately compound, are they 1-pinnate, 2-pinnate or more?
Station 10. Lamina shape, tips, bases, and edges (Fig. 10)
There are many botanical terms for describing lamina shapes, and there are special terms for describing lamina tips and bases, and edges (the margins). Using the terms given here, use botanical terminology to describe the lamina characteristics of four of the leaves on the table.
Leaf Tips (Apices)
Leaf Shapes and Margins
Station 11: Surface terms
There are many descriptive terms for plant surfaces and hairs (pubescence). Plant surfaces without pubescence are called glabrous. Most hairs are “simple” or unbranched, but there are many descriptive terms for simple hairs, such as hispid, pilose, villous, and tomentose. Hairs with branches may be called branched or stellate (with all the branches emerging from the same point). Hairs that excrete a sticky substance are called glandular. Using the illustrations below, examine the two examples of leaf hairs set up for you under the microscopes, and decide what hair types are present.
Station 12: Inflorescences
The part of the plant bearing the flowers is called the inflorescence. Inflorescence terminology is murky and inexact, because where an inflorescence begins and ends on a plant is sometimes difficult to determine (you will find this out in this lab). Here we explain and illustrate some of the terminology that is important for keying and identification.
Peduncle – the stalk of an entire inflorescence (ie. the stalk of a solitary flower or leading to a cluster of flowers).
Pedicel – the stalk of a single flower within an inflorescence of more than one flower. If the flowers lack pedicles, they are said to be sessile on the inflorescence axis.
Solitary flower: An inflorescence consisting of one flower, either terminal or axillary.
Scape: A peduncle arising from ground-level (often from a rosette of basal leaves) either terminating in a solitary flower (ex. tulip) or a flower cluster (ex. onion, blue dicks). The branching within the flower cluster can be any of the types listed below.
As explained in lecture, inflorescences may be either indeterminate or determinate. The flowers of indeterminate inflorescences are the product of lateral buds formed by a continuing apical meristem of a vertical axis. The apical meristem continues to produce lateral buds until the inflorescence is fully formed and growth stops. When indeterminate inflorescences are examined closely, one sees that the most mature flowers are at the base of the inflorescence or its branches, while the youngest flowers (or buds) are near the terminus of the inflorescence or its branches. The basic indeterminate inflorescence type is the raceme.
Raceme: One vertical axis with pedicillate flowers. Lupinus.
Spike: One vertical axis with sessile flowers. Plantago.
Panicle: A branched raceme, with each branch repeating the raceme development pattern. Brassica.
In determinate inflorescences, the tip of the apical meristem differentiates into a flower, and the axis can no longer grow vertically. Therefore, continuation of the inflorescence can only occur by branching below that terminal flower. Branching can be two-sided or one-sided, but each branch terminates in a flower. When a determinate inflorescence is examined, one can see that the central flower is the most mature, while lateral flowers are less mature. The basic determinate inflorescence type is the cyme.
|Coiled or one-sided cyme|
Cyme: Consisting of one terminal flower (maturing first) subtended by one to two lateral branches, each of which terminates in a flower (and may be subtended by further branching, etc.).
Coiled or one-sided cyme: A cyme with branches emerging on only one side each time the axis terminates in a flower. Young coiled cymes are curled over, like a scorpions tail. With maturation, the cyme uncoils. Typical of many Boraginaceae.
The following inflorescence types may be either determinate or indeterminate:
Umbel: An infloresence in which three to may pedicels arise from a common point. In a simple umbel, all of the pedicels in the inflorescence emerge digitately from one point like the spokes of an umbrella. A compound umbel has secondary or tertiary umbellate branching within the main umbel. Apiaceae, Hedera.
Head: Like a simple umbel, but the flowers sessile. Trifolium, Asteraceae.
Catkin: A spike of unisexual flowers with inconspicuous perianth, sometimes pendant, often with bracts subtending the flowers.
Part 2. Floral and Fruit Morphology
Peduncle vs Pedicel – (peduncle is the stalk of entire inflorescence or solitary flower, while pedicels are the stalks within a larger inflorescence).
Receptacle – floral axis, think of a flower as a rosette-plant, and all the flower parts are modified leaves. The receptacle, although perhaps a small area, is really a stem with very short internodes.
Perianth – the outermost, sterile parts of a flower (not bearing reproductive structures).
If you can recognize two distinctly different whorls of perianth:
Sepals are the outermost whorl of ‘leaf-derived” structures, and these are often greenish. All the sepals together are called the calyx. They may be fused or free of one another.
Petals are the next whorl of “leaf-derived” structures, but are generally colored by various pigments. All the petals together are called the corolla. They may be fused or free.
If you can’t see two distinctly different whorls of perianth:
Sometimes just one whorl is present, with between 3 and 5 leaf-like structures (or lobes on a fused structure), then you are missing a whorl, and the whorl that is present is usually called the calyx; the corolla is assumed to be missing, and the flower is called incomplete. If you have many perianth parts (6 or more), or it is obvious you have two whorls, but all the leaf-like structures look the same, then one cannot distinguish calyx from corolla, and the structures are called tepals. This is common in lilies and magnolias.
Stamens: The whorl of “leaf-derived” structures interior to the perianth consists of the stamens; each stamen usually has an anther and a stalk called a filament, although some just have anthers. The anthers are the pollen-bearing structures, and pollen gives rise eventually to sperm cells. Thus the stamens are sometimes called the male part of the flower and all together are called the androecium. (andro=male). Flowers may have few to many stamens. Anthers release their pollen (dehisce) by opening by slits (very common), pores, or flaps (uncommon).
Pistils: In the Jepson manual, the so called “female” unit of a flower is called the pistil, and this structure is found in the center of the flower. There is usually just one pistil per flower; having more than one pistil, is unusual and is found in such groups as Magnolias, buttercups, and some Rosaceous genera. All the pistils together are called the gynoecium. Each pistil has an ovary which bears the ovules (which become the seeds), and a stigma (or stigmas) which receives the pollen. Many pistils also have a stalk connecting the stigma and ovary called the style. A pistil can have one or more styles. If there is just one style, it may be branched. Each style or style branch tip has a stigma.
Evolutionary theory holds that all flower parts evolved from leaf-like structures. This is true of the gynoecium as well. The original pistil was a single leaf that bore ovules along its edges. Imagine then that this leaf rolled up, and the ovules then occurred in a single line inside the leaf, much like a pea pod. This hypothetical leaf-like structure, with ovules in one line, is called a carpel and is really the true basic unit of the gynoecium – like the stamen is the basic unit of the androecium.
Some pistils, such as those in legume flowers are made up of only one carpel, and are called simple pistils. Any time you have more than one pistil per flower, each one of those pistils is a simple pistil. However, during the evolution of the flowering plants there was a trend toward fusion and reduction of parts in some flowers. Carpels fused with one another creating what we call a compound pistil. The best way to understand this is to eat an orange. Each section of an orange is a carpel. But in the orange flower, the carpels have become fused into a compound pistil. The seeds of each carpel are in one line.
When carpels fuse into a compound pistil, the ovaries of the carpels always fuse; the styles, however may or may not; And if the styles fuse, the stigmas may or may not. For example, if you have three carpels fused, you may have three styles, one style with 3 stigmas, or one style with one stigma. It depends on the amount of fusion.
If you take a cross-section of an ovary of a compound pistil derived from 3 carpels, there are several possible ovule arrangements that you could see. These arrangements are called placentation patterns and the chambers in the ovary are called locules.
Fusion of floral parts
Connation – when parts within the same whorl become fused, they are said to be connate to one another. For example: connation of petals into a tubular corolla (sympetally); connation of sepals into calyx tube; connation of stamens into staminal tube; connation of carpels into a compound pistil.
Adnation – when parts between whorls become fused, they are said to be adnate (for example stamens adnate to corolla).
Hypanthium (or floral tube) – this is a special case of adnation and connation, in which the calyx, corolla, and staminal filaments all become fused into a tube. This is very common in the rose family.
Superior vs inferior ovaries
Usually, the stamens, corolla, and calyx are clearly attached to the receptacle to the outside of or below the pistil(s), and in these cases, the ovary is said to be superior. Sometimes, in cases where there is just one pistil, the ovary of that structure becomes either embedded in the receptacle or fused to a hypanthium. In these cases, it appears as though the stamens, corolla, and calyx begin above the ovary and the ovary is said to be inferior.
Floral Shapes – These are a sample of possible floral shapes
Symmetry – In order to describe the shape of flowers, we often speak of the symmetry of the flower. For example, if one looks down at a buttercup flower, with many whorls of petals, stamens and carpels, you can dissect the flower into many planes of symmetry (plane of symmetry = bisecting an object into 2 mirror images). Buttercups have radial symmetry.
If on the other hand, one looks at an orchid flower, with its highly derived characteristics, one can only find one plane of symmetry. This is bilateral symmetry.
There are cases, such as in the mustard family, where one commonly finds two planes of symmetry, and this is biradial symmetry.
And there are cases where flowers are so asymmetrical that there are no planes of symmetry, and this is asymmetrical.
In the lecture, we discussed the use of flora formulas as a shorthand for describing floral structure. You are not required to use floral formulas, but we will use them in the lectures and some students find them useful. Refer to the lecture on this topic for details.
Floral Dissection and Examination of Inflorescences
Use the form on the next page to guide your dissection of the flowers of two to four different species (additional hard copies of the form will be provided in the lab). Hold your needle with your dominant hand and the forceps with the other hand. Hold down the flower with your forceps, and use the needle to pry open the flower. Answer all the questions as completely as possible, and then check your answers with your TA.
Floral Morphology Worksheet
Dissect each flower carefully and answer the questions below:
Describe the inflorescence type ________________________________
If there is a tubular corolla, describe the shape. ____________________
How many stamens are there? _____
Are they free of one another or connate into a staminal tube? ____________
Are they free of the perianth or adnate to the perianth? ______________
Are they all of one length or of different lengths? _______________
Do the anthers dehisce by slits, pores, or flaps? ____________________
Presence of hypanthium:
Is there an hypanthium (calyx, corolla, and filaments fused at least at base)? ______
How many pistils are there?_____________________________
If there is just one pistil, answer the following questions:
Is the ovary positioned so that it is inferior or superior? ______________
How many styles are present (if any)? ____________________
If there is just one style, is it branched? _________ How many branches? ________
If there is just one unbranched style, is the stigma simple or lobed? __________
Given your observations, is this a simple or a compound pistil? ____________
As the ovary matures into fruit, the ovary wall becomes “the pericarp.” The pericarp can sometimes be divided into three layers. The outermost layer is called the exocarp. The middle layer is called the mesocarp. The inner layer, closest to the seed(s) is called the endocarp. Your TA will guide you through the different fruits that we have on display in the lab.
Indehiscent fruit types:
Drupe – one seeded fleshy fruit with a stony endocarp
Pome – fleshy fruit from a compound inferior ovary and its surrounding hypanthium
Berry – fleshy, multiseeded fruit derived from a compound ovary lacking a stony endocarp
Achene – indehiscent, one-seeded, dry fruit
Winged achene – an achene with one or two wings
Nut – indehiscent, dry fruit with a hard pericarp
Dehiscent fruit types (all dry):
Capsule – dehiscent, dry fruit, generally with many seeds, derived from a compound pistil
Follicle – dehiscent, dry fruit derived from a simple pistil, dehiscent only along one side
Legume – dehiscent, dry fruit derived from a simple pistil, dehiscent along two sides
Either indehiscent or dehiscent
Aggregate – group of fruits derived from more than one pistil in the same flower
– back to top –
- Basil Pesto
- How to make Basil Pesto
- Can you use basil stems in pesto?
- Can I use pine nuts in this recipe?
- Is basil pesto keto?
- What pasta goes best with pesto?
- What is basil pesto used for?
- Learn this easy way to root basil from cuttings. It’s a great way to stretch your herb budget and have a bountiful supply of fresh basil!
- Café Tips on How to Root Basil from Cuttings
- Woody Stem
Homemade basil pesto is an easy recipe to make with walnuts, fresh basil, garlic, olive oil & parmesan cheese. It’s perfect for adding to pizza, pasta or grilled chicken dishes!
Basil pesto is so easy to make and one of my favorite homemade sauces. When you make it at home, it has such a fresh flavor, as opposed to what you can buy in a jar at the grocery store.
My first time making pesto was in a home economics class in high school. Did I just totally date myself because home ec is no longer a thing? No surprise here, but home ec was my favorite class.
I learned how to sew, not well, but I tried! And I learned how to cook new things, at a much higher success rate than my sewing!
When pesto was introduced to me in home ec, I’d never eaten pesto before, but I quickly fell in love! Now I make many different versions of pesto.
- Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
- Kale Pesto
- Cilantro Lime Pesto
- Spinach Pesto
- Vegan Kale Pistachio Pesto
The fun thing about pesto is that you can easily make it your own based on what greens you have in your fridge or what dish you want to pair it with.
You can also mix up what kind of nuts you use! While pine nuts are the traditional nut used in basil pesto, I used walnuts instead. They’re much less expensive and still work wonderfully in this pesto recipe!
Basil pesto can be added to pizza, tossed with pasta or used as a marinade for chicken or a sauce to top fish. It’s super versatile and so delicious!
How to make Basil Pesto
Add fresh basil leaves and stems, garlic, walnuts, kosher salt and pepper to a blender or food processor. Pulse for 30 seconds. Drizzle 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil through the top of the machine while it’s turned on to low.
Remove the lid and hand mix in parmesan cheese. Hand mixing in the parmesan cheese gives it more texture than blending it into the pesto.
Use immediately or store in a sealed container, such as a mason jar, in the refrigerator for up to a week. Homemade basil pesto can also be stored in the freezer for 3-4 months.
Pro Tip: Freeze the pesto in ice cube trays, that way you can just pop one serving out at a time! A standard ice cube tray holds one ounce or 2 tablespoons in each well.
Can you use basil stems in pesto?
Absolutely! The great thing about making pesto is that you can use the entire herb in the sauce. If you get a bunch of basil with extra thick stems, you may want to trim those off, as your blender or food processor might not be able to handle them.
Can I use pine nuts in this recipe?
For sure! Simply substitute the pine nuts for the walnuts in this recipe.
Is basil pesto keto?
This basil pesto recipe contains only 1 carb per serving, which is 1 ounce of pesto. This is perfect for those on a low carb or keto diet.
Toss with zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash for a low carb side. Or use the pesto to marinate chicken, steak or pork chops for a delicious, low carb main dish.
Basil pesto is also gluten free and can easily be made vegan by using a vegan parmesan style topping instead of parmesan cheese.
What pasta goes best with pesto?
I love to toss this basil pesto recipe with angel hair pasta, bucatini or fresh ravioli. You never want to heat up pesto like you would a red sauce. Instead, simply toss the pesto with the cooked pasta right after you drain the pasta. The heat from the pasta will heat up the pesto.
For every 4 oz of dry pasta, you’ll want 3 tbsp of pesto to toss with the pasta. Obviously, you can adjust to taste, but this is a good place to start.
What is basil pesto used for?
Basil pesto is most typically tossed with pasta, but can also be used in salads, chicken dishes or on pizza. Try this homemade basil pesto in these scrumptious recipes!
- Pesto Chicken Avocado Salad
- Cheesy Basil Pesto Pasta
- Pesto Baked Salmon
- Grilled Vegetable Italian Panini
- Pesto Smashed Potato Salad
- Italian 5 Layer Dip
- Caprese Grilled Chicken Sandwich
Pin Recipe 5 from 4 votes Homemade basil pesto is an easy recipe to make with walnuts, fresh basil, garlic, olive oil & parmesan cheese. It’s perfect for adding to pizza, pasta or grilled chicken dishes! Servings: 8 oz pesto Prep Time: 5 mins Total Time: 5 mins Author: Whitney Bond Course: Sauce Cuisine: Italian
- 2 cups fresh basil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- Add the basil, garlic, walnuts, kosher salt and black pepper to a blender or food processor.
- Pulse for 30 seconds.
- Drizzle the olive oil through the top of the machine while turned on to low speed.
- Blend for 30 seconds or until all of the ingredients are combined.
- Add the parmesan cheese and use a spoon to mix it into the pesto.
- Pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 7 days or in the freezer for 3-4 months.
- Basil stems can be used in the pesto, but make sure to remove any extra thick stems so that they don’t get stuck in your blender or food processor.
- Pine nuts can be used instead of the walnuts for a more traditional pesto.
Calories 158kcal (8%)Carbohydrates 1gProtein 1g (2%)Fat 16g (25%)Saturated Fat 2g (10%)Cholesterol 2mg (1%)Sodium 123mg (5%)Potassium 33mg (1%)Vitamin A 340mg (7%)Vitamin C 1.3mg (2%)Calcium 53mg (5%)Iron 0.4mg (2%) Did you make this recipe?Tag @WhitneyBond on Instagram and hashtag it #WBRecipes!
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Total Time: 20 minutes 2K Shares
Learn this easy way to root basil from cuttings. It’s a great way to stretch your herb budget and have a bountiful supply of fresh basil!
I’ve had a little window garden growing for the past few weeks, in anticipation of summer. Yes, summer is definitely on the horizon and it was time to start my annual “root basil from cuttings” project. I love seeing the cuttings go from small and bare-stemmed to vibrant little plantlings, boasting a zillion tiny, hair-like roots.
I started two weeks ago and each one is now raring to grow and ready to supply me with all the basil my heart can desire. All from one inexpensive grocery store plant!
I shared this technique on how to root basil back in 2015, but with so many new readers, I thought this would be the perfect time to post it again. We took some new photos of my current window garden and I added some extra tips I’ve learned over the years. If you love fresh basil and can’t get enough of it, keep reading! You won’t believe how unbelievably easy it is to generate an abundance of offspring!
I love cooking with fresh basil and use it in a wide variety of recipes. Basil also makes a beautiful garnish and a sprig or two can make an ordinary dinner look extraordinary. It’s fun to use decoratively too. If you visit The Café during the summer, you’ll often find a big bouquet of basil adorning my kitchen counter in lieu of fresh flowers.
You know that well-known saying: “You can never be too rich or too thin”? Well, I heartily disagree with it: as far as “never being too rich”, I think Solomon, known as “the wisest of all men”, summed it all up quite nicely; “Give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich I may deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name”.
And too thin? That part makes me sad. With so many young, beautiful girls suffering from social-induced image problems like bulimia and anorexia, it breaks my heart that a thin, lean body has become an icon of female beauty. The most beautiful women I know range from being short, tall, large, small, young, old and all places in between!
Now basil… that’s a whole different story.
Although Scott has grown basil for me for many years, it always seemed that I could use more. One of my favorite salad dressing recipes, Sweet Basil Vinaigrette calls for a quarter pound of basil – have you ever seen how much basil it takes to make a quarter pound? A lot!
A number of years my basil problem was solved when I learned how to root basil from cuttings, a super simple technique. Now I employ it each spring to ensure a bountiful supply of the delicious, fragrant herb. This is how it works: simply purchase a live basil plant at your local grocery or big box store. Look for the biggest, healthiest one you can find. They’re easy to find right now, and a nice size plant usually costs less than three dollars.
When you get the pretty little plant home, divide it up into 10-12 cuttings and place them in small containers filled with fresh water. Basil roots very easily and your kitchen windowsill is the perfect place to start a little “basil nursery”.
Check out the Café Tips and the “recipe” below for detailed instructions and tips on how to root basil from cuttings. In a few weeks, you’ll have a prolific supply of small basil plantlings, all set to be popped into pots or the garden bed. You’ll have so much fresh basil, you won’t know what to do with it. Then again, if you’re a Café follower, you will!
Café Tips on How to Root Basil from Cuttings
- Begin this rooting process no more than 3-4 weeks before it’s safe to plant basil in your climate zone, which is usually when temperatures will consistently remain above 50˚ at night, the days are warm and sunny and there’s no danger of frost.
- A healthy basil plant will produce anywhere from 10-12 plantlings, maybe more. If you have limited space and/or can’t use that much basil, go ahead and root them anyway – the little plantlings will make great gifts for your “foodie” friends – believe me, they’ll be thinking quite fondly of you each time they snip, snip, snip!
- The best place to root basil indoors is a bright but not intensely hot window. Morning sun is great but a lot of intense afternoon sun will be too much for the little cuttings.
- The cuttings may look a bit droopy, a day or so after you divide them. They are just adjusting to a new environment; keep the water level full and be sure to change the water every other day.
- Try to use water right around room temperature when changing out the water. this will help avoid shock.
- If it’s going to be below 40˚F at night, remove your “babies” to the counter until morning, then return them to the windowsill.
- Don’t be snitching basil during this growing period. That’s a good way to put them into irreversible shock. I’m telling you this from personal experience.
- I like to use a container that will hold at least a cup of water and have a fairly wide opening at the top. I’ve found that the little plantlings don’t do well in containers that are too small or that have super narrow openings.
- A little warning: sometimes a few of the “little offspring” just don’t make it – it’s too shocking for their system. You should have plenty of others that flourish so just discard the ones that fail.
- Once you plant your new little herb family, they will need plenty of water, especially in the hot summer months. They will wilt, droop and their growth will be stunted if they don’t receive enough moisture. I am forgetful and a bit lazy when it comes to watering plants. Years ago, Scott devised an ingenious system that keeps my herbs healthy and beautiful during the scorching summer weather we experience here in the Carolinas. Check out this post and you’ll be able to see for yourself how this simple and ecologically efficient drip system works.
- Have some questions about growing basil? Scott is the gardening expert here at The Café. He keeps my little herb garden super healthy and happy. You can check out his recommendations for keeping basil pest-free in his post, How to Grow Pest-free, Healthy Basil.
- Happy basil rooting!
5 from 4 votes Print How to Root Basil from Cuttings
Learn this easy way to root basil from cuttings. It’s a great way to stretch your herb budget and have a bountiful supply of fresh basil!
Author: Chris Scheuer Prep Time: 20 mins Total Time: 20 mins Servings: 12 Calories: 9 kcal Ingredients
- 1 large full, healthy basil plant, preferably planted in soil vs hydroponic
- kitchen scissors or a sharp knife
- small glass containers
- fresh tap water
- With a scissors or a sharp knife, cut 3-4 inch long cuttings (they may end up being a bit longer depending on where the first leaf node is) right below a leaf node; this is where a leaf joins the main stem. Although your little cuttings will eventually sprout roots all the way up the stem, the leaf node is generally where the new shoots will begin.
- Remove leaves from cuttings on the lower 2 inches. (I place any basil leaves that are left over in a small plastic storage container and store them in the refrigerator till I need them for cooking.)
If there are tiny leaves at the leaf node, don’t worry about these, they can stay on.
- Place cuttings in small glass containers of water on a bright windowsill. Choose an area that gets lots of light, but not direct sun, as the little plants could go into shock at this point with hot sunshine. You can put 4-6 cuttings in each glass. The cuttings might wilt a little at first and you may lose a few, that’s normal. You should have plenty that survive.
- Watch the water levels carefully, adding water to keep stems immersed. Change the water every other day to keep it fresh. (Be sure it’s not too cold on your window sill. Basil loves warmth and doesn’t do well if it gets a chill.)
- After 5-7 days you will begin to see some tiny white roots forming. Every day more and more will appear. Let the roots grow to about 2 inches. Continue to change the water every other day. The process will take 12 days to 18 days, from start to finish.
You are now ready to plant your plants outdoors in a sunny spot with good drainage. Keep the plants protected from intense sun for a week or so until they get established. Once they adjust, the little plants will start growing new leaves and shoots. Before you know it, you’ll have an abundance of fresh basil!
Calories 9kcal Sodium 1mg Potassium 118mg Carbohydrates 1g Protein 1g Vitamin A 2110% Vitamin C 7.2% Calcium 71% Iron 1.3%
BOTANICAL MEDICINE DOSING
The goal of the practitioner is to provide an effective dose of a medication—enough to elicit a therapeutic response, yet not so much as to cause undesirable side effects or toxicity. Finding a minimum effective dose is ideal as it maximizes efficacy and safety, and is also the most economical for the patient.
What constitutes an effective dose is a matter of some debate amongst phytotherapists. For solid forms of herbal medicines (e.g., dried bulk herbs to be used in teas and decoctions), dosing amounts are fairly standard. However there are varying schools of although for tincture prescribing, with practices ranging anywhere from giving single drops (“drop dosing”) of a botanical medicine to using large doses (as much as 5 to 10 mL of tincture three times daily), the latter common in European herbal medicine and among medical herbalists. The drop dose strategy is not consistent with traditional prescribing practices, nor do most herbalist feels it bears out clinically, but seems to be based on homeopathic prescribing patterns and interpretations of the apparently low doses used in Eclectic medicine. The homeopathic dose application is not conducive to the use of herbs for their phytochemical constituents, but reflects an energetic model of herbal medicine. Although Eclectic medicines may have been used in low doses, they were actually highly concentrated pharmaceutical-like preparations requiring a low dose. Looking to traditional systems of herbal medicine, such as traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and Ayurvedic medicine, one finds that high doses of botanical prescriptions are the norm, with patients instructed to take as many as 30 g per day of an herb in tea or decoction form. Tinctures were not typically used other than in the form of medicated wines.
Western herbal practitioners worldwide most commonly subscribe to what is referred to as a “physiologic” dosing strategy, that is, giving only enough of the botanical medicine to have a therapeutic effect, whereas others may prefer a “pharmacologic” dosing strategy, prescribing larger doses to elicit a marked response.51 Physiologic dosing is most appropriate for herbal products that are intended for long-term, regular use, as in the treatment of chronic conditions, or for the treatment of mild conditions. Pharmacologic dosing is more commonly used for acute or serious conditions requiring a quick response.
The complexity of dosing with tinctures is due to the fact that tinctures do not come in a single standard strength. They are available in a variety of strengths and concentrations, are made from both fresh and dried material, are made from material harvested at various times leading to natural chemical variation in the product, and are made from starting materials of varying quality. As described in Herbal Preparations, tinctures are prepared in varying strengths, with ratios of herb to extraction menstruum (e.g., 1:2, 1:3, 1:4, etc.) affecting the strength of the final product.
Further, even if two different tinctures of the same herb are 1:5, that does not mean they are the same strength. Take a 1:5 feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) tincture, for example. One may be made from whole feverfew plants (woody stem and all), and another from only leaf and flowers that have been stripped clean of stems, greatly affecting the composition and strength of the final product. Or, whereas some companies use the whole St. John’s wort (Hypericum perfoliatum) plant (2 to 4 feet tall) stems and all, others use only the medicinal flowering tops and an additional 2 to 6 inches, depending upon the height of the plants. The latter will yield a more potent medicine. One calendula (Calendula officinalis) tincture may be made from old, faded, odorless, fumigated calendula flowers, and another from recently and properly dried, organically cultivated calendula that is still rich in color, aroma and flavor, and activity. Two different tinctures could be 1:5 from the same herb material, but can still be different strengths because different menstruum or extraction methods were used, or the same extraction methods may have been used, but with different extraction efficiency.
Fresh herb tinctures can appear stronger than they actually are, but that is because of the math. For example, 1:2 fresh tinctures, when calculated according to equivalent dry herb are often only around 1:8 or 1:10, depending upon the amount of water weight of the fresh herb. Some herbs require “curing” in order to extract their full therapeutic potential. For example, it is necessary to activate endogenous enzymes in wild cherry bark (Prunus serotina) during extraction in order to enable hydrolysis of the bark’s cyanogenic glycosides. Thus two 1:4 wild cherry tinctures—one hydrolyzed, and one not—are by no means equal in potential therapeutic activity (or potential toxicity). Simply put, there is no universal menstruum, herb/menstruum ratio, or extraction technique for all herbs. Each herb needs to be extracted according to its own unique physical and chemical characteristics and the strength and activity of the medication desired.
It is important to note that the ratio of herb to menstruum in a tincture is not always reflective of tincture strength. Although a 1:2 tincture is a stronger tincture than a 1:3, 1:4, or even 1:10 of the same herb, a 1:10 is not always a weak tincture. Many herbs that would be toxic in more concentrated strengths are standardly prepared as 1:10 tinctures according to the Brussels Protocol of the early twentieth century. Arnica (Arnica montana), for example, is prepared as such based on pharmacopeial standards, and given its potential toxicity, a 1:10 may still provide quite a strong medicine.
Although it may seem most reasonable to rely on the results of botanical clinical trials, using only those doses that were found to be successful, most herbs have not been subject to clinical trials and therefore there are only a limited number of herbs that have scientifically established doses. The preparations used in clinical trial do not necessarily have phytoequivalence to herbs sold on the common market, often making clinical trial doses irrelevant to the consumer and the practitioner. Further, the success of doses in clinical trials is relevant to those patients in the clinical trial, and does not necessarily apply to others who may not match the characteristics of trial subjects, for example, for weight, age, metabolism, and health status. In fact, age, weight, and clinical status (i.e., pregnancy, immune status, etc.) will all affect what is an appropriate dose for an individual patient. Finally, clinical trials most often do not reflect traditional or modern clinical herbal practice strategies, and thus dosing information derived from clinical trials, may be irrelevant to how the herb is used by the herbalist, which will most likely be in combination with other herbs, for example.
Dosages for the individual patient can be derived from a standard dosage range, as presented in Appendix 2. These were derived from a composite of what are considered some of the most authoritative information sources currently available in botanical medicine, with the traditional dose referring to the doses expected to be used by herbalists in clinical practice, and the clinical trial dose being based on the ranges determined effective in positive clinical trials, when available. Doses are provided for the form in which each herb is typically used.
The dosage range for tinctures assumes that a 1:4 tincture is being used unless otherwise indicated. Should practitioners be using more or less concentrated products, such as 1:3 or 1:5 strengths, doses can easily be adjusted mathematically, or the given dose can simply be used at the lower or higher range, respectively. Although extrapolation from a 1:4 to a 1:2 or 1:1 extract cannot be directly made by simply proportional adjustment, one can get a relatively good approximation of a safe and effective dose by dividing the dose of a 1:4 tincture by 4. Doses are based on the assumption that the patient is a nonpregnant, adult with an average weight or approximately 140 pounds. Adjustments for substantial weight variations, particularly for women who are more slight, can be made by using herbs in the lower range for women significantly (>20 lb) below the average. Lower doses are also generally appropriate for chronic conditions, whereas higher doses may be required in acute conditions; however, lower doses can also be given with greater frequency for acute conditions.
Dosing of herbal medicines, unlike pharmaceutical drugs, is not an exact science. Traditional doses are based on experience, trial and error, and historical use. Individual patients may benefit with lower doses or may require slightly higher doses. A complete list of doses for all herbs included in this text is found in Appendix 1.
Herbaceous plants are plants with very flexible stems. Their leaves and stems die down to soil level at the end of every growing season. Herbaceous plants can be annual, biennial or perennial. Annual herbaceous completely die every year then grow back again from the seed. With biennial and perennial herbaceous only the stems and leaves die at the end of growing season but parts of the plant survives and grows back from those parts the next year.
Woody plants are plants with very strong and not easily bendable stems such as trees. Woody plants produce wood as a structural tissue. The stems branches and roots are usually covered with a layer of bark. The wood that woody plants produce is a structural cellular adaptation that allows them to survive harsh winters and continue growing instead of dying. This adaptation therefore makes them the largest and tallest terrestrial plants. Wood is primarily composed of xylem cells with cell walls made up of cellulose and lignin. Woody plants form a new layer of woody tissue each year, increasing the diameter of the stem. You can see these tissue layers inside a tree if you were to cut it down. In some monocots such as palms, the wood is formed in bundles that are scattered through the interior of the trunk.
Basil is one of the most popular herbs grown in the world. It is native to Asia (India, Pakistan, Iran, Thailand and other countries) and can be found growing wild in tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. Because of its popularity, basil is often referred to as the “king of the herbs”. Basil has several name derivations and beliefs associated with it. The comon name basil may be derived from the Greek words basileus meaning “king.” or basilikon meaning “royal.” A Latin word, basiliscus, refers to “basilisk” a mythical fire-breathing dragon that was so repulsive it could kill with just a glance. According to Roman legend, basil is the antidote to the venom of the basilisk. The botanical name Ocimum is derived from the Greek meaning “to be fragrant”. In the 1600’s, the English used basil as a flavoring in their food and also as an insecticide. It was hung in doorways to ward off flies and other unwanted pests (evil spirits). Italians used basil as the sign of love. A pot of basil placed on the balcony meant that a woman was ready for her suitor to arrive. And, if he brought a sprig of basil, she would fall in love with him. It was also worn by a courting young man to signal to a woman that he had serious intentions. In India, Hindus believed that if a leaf of basil was buried with them, it would get them into heaven, thus the popularity of holy basil. Basil was also sacred to the Gods in India, Krishna, and Vishnu. In America, basil has been grown for over 200 years. It was air dried or preserved in layers of salt and kept in earthenware crocks.
Basil has many uses, the most common of which is its culinary use. As a fresh herb, it is used to flavor foods such as vegetables, poultry, and fish. It is famous for use in Italian dishes such as pesto. Basil is commonly preserved in vinegar or olive oil and adds a delightful flavor to both for salad dressings. It is also used for flavor in jelly, honey, tea, and liquor. Basil can also be used dried. The flowers of basil are also edible and can be an attractive addition to salads and other dishes.
Besides its edibility, basil is an aromatic herb and is often used in potpourri and sachets. The cosmetic industry uses basil oil in lotion, shampoo, perfume, and soap. As an ornamental in the flower garden, basil has attractive foliage and flowers.
Basil is a tender perennial grown as an annual. It can be grown easily from seed. Start seed indoors 4 or 5 weeks before the last frost date. It likes warm temperatures (about 75 F) for germination. Seed can also be sown directly in the ground outdoors after it has warmed in the spring. Plant basil outdoors after all danger of frost is past. Basil does not tolerate cold temperatures. Plant in full sun and avoid heavy nitrogen fertilization. Too much nitrogen affects oil content and flavor. Water regularly with an inch of water a week. Basil can also be propagated vegetatively through tip cuttings. Root cuttings in moist perlite or coarse sand
To harvest, remove terminal growth whenever four sets of true leaves can be left on the plant. This encourages bushier growth and increased yield. For best foliage flavor, cut before flowering. Leaf flavor changes after flowers open. After cutting, wash and pat leaves dry. Use immediately or store in perforated plastic bags in the refrigerator. When drying the leaves, harvest early in the day but after dew has dried. Spread leaves on screens or loosely bundle and air dry. Warm air circulation (less than 130 F) aids color retention. Sun dried leaves tend to be brownish in color.
Basil is a member of the mint family which is characterized by square stems. They belong in the genus Ocimum. Several different species are grown, the most common being basilicum. Over 150 different species and varieties are available. These are some of the more common:
|Common Name||Latin Name||Description|
|Sweet Basil||Ocimum basilicum||Most common type grown. White flowers. Bright green, 2 to 3 inch long leaves. Erect habit. Clovelike scent.|
|‘Genovese’ Basil||Ocimum basilicum ‘Genovese’||An Italian strain, regarded as the best variety for pesto and garlic dishes. Dark green leaves up to 2 inches long. Slow to bolt. Erect habit.|
|Bush or Greek Basil||Ocimum basilicum minimum||Dwarf varieties with very small, less than 1/2 inch long, pungent leaves. White flowers. Plants are excellent for edging or containers. Flavor is preferred by many chefs. Varieties like ‘Fine Green,’ ‘Green Bouquet,’ and ‘Spicy Globe’ are widely available.|
|Purple Basil||Ocimum basilicum ‘Purpurascens||Grown for their ornamental foliage as well as their ‘culinary uses. Soft lavender flowers. Same shape and size leaf as sweet basil. ‘Opal,’ ‘Purple Ruffles,’ and ‘Red Rubin’ are excellent selections.|
|Lettuce-leaf Basil||Ocimum basilicum crispum||Large, wide leaves. Flavor is less pronounced than other green basils, sometimes preferred for salads or sauces. Common varieties include ‘Mammoth,’ ‘Napoletano,’ and ‘Green Ruffles.’|
|Scented Basil||Ocimum basilicum odoratum||These basils possess flavors reminiscent of other plants. Cinnamon, lemon, and licorice or anise basils all fit in this category. They can be used in recipes where a touch of a different flavor is desired. Often used in fruit preserves or in custards and sorbets.|
|Holy Basil||Ocimum canum or Ocimum sanctum||Leaves are small and fuzzy with a sweet, clove-like fragrance. Violet or white flowers. Used in some religious ceremonies. Not highly suited for culinary uses.|
|Camphor Basil||Ocimum kilimandscharicum||Has a strong, medicinal scent. Gray-green foliage. Not used for culinary purposes.|
|Peruvian Basil||Ocimum micranthemum||Has a somewhat medicinal, sweet flavor though it can be used in cooking. Sparse flowering.|
|Thrysiflora Basil||Ocimum thrysiflora||Grown for its ornamental seed head. Forms a triangular shaped plant with a strong V shaped branching habit. The seed head is a mound of purple flowers.|
This article originally appeared in the March 21, 1997 issue, pp. 25-26.