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Basil - Insecticidal Uses 0708

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 11 months ago
Basil - Insecticidal Uses

 

 


 

Description and Rationale    

 

 

In the Philippines, almost 28.3 million people live below the poverty threshold in densely populated areas and villages. Because of this overcrowded state of living, disease can spread rapidly through many factors, especially insects. Malaria, dengue fever, typhoid fever, and cholera are diseases that have spread due to the presence of houseflies and mosquitoes. Many poor people of the Philippines cannot afford store bought insect repellents, and so they live their lives subject to the torment of the houseflies and mosquitoes. However, there is a way to naturally produce pesticides that effectively repel insects through the incorporation of Basil within the people’s homes and villages. The essential oils in a Basil plant emit an antibacterial aroma, which is displeasing to the common insect.

What would be the impact on the insect ecosystem be, if Basil were to be planted in a village? Could the planting upset the fragile balance of nature and cause a disaster? What would be the effect on the village if all the insects were repelled? Could the absence of these insects improve daily life? Within a house, where would be the most effective areas to place the Basil plants? Would they be able to grow by windows and doors that are possibly sheltered from direct sunlight? Or do they need to grown outside of the house? Are there any possible threats to the general health of the community if Basil is planted? Could the Basil plants be cultivated and used for culinary purposes and yet still repel insects?

If the insects that cause widespread diseases are withheld from entering houses and communities, the general health hygiene of that community could greatly improve. Children would not be have to fear the threats of dengue fever and other diseases while playing near their house. The small alleyways could become a safe place to walk at night without the possibility of getting bitten and pestered by insects. If in fact Basil does prove to be a successful repellent, what would be the best way to tell people about the plant, and how could it be grown to provide enough protection for a community?

The purpose of this project will be to research exactly how Basil repels insects, and to determine how the presence of such insects affects daily living through personal interviews and literary searches. This research in turn will help to determine where there is the most need for a natural, cost-efficient repellent. These findings will help dictate how the Basil plant will be planted within a community to achieve the most effective results.

It is hoped, that through this project, the natural repelling aroma of the Basil plant will help to improve the daily lives and livelihood of the people who live areas plagued by diseases.

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Biology

 

Common Names and Synonyms

 

The Basil plant is scientifically known as Ocimum basilicum. Also, the plant has multiples names in a variety of languages. In western, English-speaking countries, the plant is simply called Basil, but in Asia countries where the plant originated, more descript names are given. In Thailand, the plant is called Bai Horapa, which means Thai basil. In the Philippines, Balanoy is the name given to the plant. More synonyms include Royal Herb in France, and King’s Herb in the Netherlands.

 

Classification

 

 

Kingdom: Plantae (plants)

Phylum: Magnoliophyta (flowering plants)

Class: Magnoliopsida (dicotyledonous flowering plants)

Order: Lamiales (mint flowering plants)

Family: Lamiaceae (aromatic, mint flowering plants)

Genus: Ocimum (aromatic and perrenial Herbs)

Species: O. basilicum (sweet basil)

There are approximately 34 similar species of herbs under the genus Ocimum. All are very much similar to each other and are used in culinary and medicinal practices. Two other species that closely resemble Basil are Ocimum americanum, and Ocimum grattissimum. 

 

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Morphology and Physical Description

 

 

Basil has a square-shaped stem with many shoots jutting out at alternate points of origin. Each of these shoots has several leaves attached to them. These leaves vary in size, from about 1 ½ to 4 inches, and also in shape. They can be oval shaped, smooth, or with tooth-like edges. The Basil plant can also come in different colors such as green, violet, or dark brown. Basil is a small plant and will only grow to about 40 inches.

Each Basil leaf contains a complex mixture of essential oils that contribute to its unique taste and smell. The most important of the oils are cineol, linalool, citral, methyl chavicol (estragole), eugenol and methyl cinnamate. Each specific type of Basil has different amounts of oils that cause their flavor to become different as well. These oils are said to be essential because they carry a certain essence, or smell. These oils are held internally in each leaf and can be extracted and also consumed. The internal use for these essential oils in the Basil plant is still unknown to science, but what can be determined is that such oils do benefit the plant. The combinations of the aroma from these oils can act as a pesticide, killing winged insects that could pose a threat, as well as a growth inhibitor for other plants which lowers Basil’s competition.

 

 

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Getting Food

 

Ocimum basilicum obtains food in the same way as every other plant; it performs photosynthesis. This is why the Basil plant needs an abundance of sunlight in order to create the needed amount of energy to sustain and feed itself. Another factor that helps the plant get food is the pH level of its soil. Basil requires a pH balance between 4.3 and 8.2. If the soil pH level changes, the nutrient balance will change, and the plant will not be able to get the required nutrients. Most species of Basil require enough nitrogen to create amino acids, but nitrogen is not readily available in pH levels lower that 5.5. Additionally, Basil also needs potassium, magnesium, zinc, and carbon dioxide.

 

Reproduction

 

The Basil plant reproduces sexually through the use of flowers. Most Basil plants are perennial and can grow up to three years, developing flowers and seeds each year. However, some go through their entire life cycle once, going through only one flowering period. Before the flower can produce a seed, it has to be pollinated with the assistance of certain insects immune to the plants repellent aroma. After pollination, the Basil plant goes through a stage of fertilization, where the egg is fertilized by the infusion of male and female gametes. When the gametes are combined a zygote is formed, which eventually develops into an embryo. Soon a mature seed is formed which is ready to be planted and germinated.

 

Environmental Factors

 

 

Like all plants, Basil needs light to power processes such as photosynthesis. The Basil plants must be grown where there is an abundance of light, but this light does not have to be from the sun. Basil plants are extremely hardy and can grow in places such as basements, and under fluorescent lights. Basil plants can grow in most parts of the world, but grow best in equatorial climates. They cannot survive for very long in cold, frosty climates, and cannot tolerate cold water. Basil also needs fertile soil in order to survive. The best possible soil that Basil can grow in is mulch, or compost elements such as worm castings.

There are only a few diseases that affects Ocimum basilicum, and most are caused by different kinds of Fungi and Nematodes. Small, dark brown patches can appear on the leaves of the plant, which are a result of small microscopic worms tunneling through the plant. Organisms such as these can be repelled by the use of store-bought, or organic pesticides. 

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Origin and Distribution

 

Basil is originally from India, Eygpt, Greece, and Thailand where it was considered a sacred herb and a source of happiness. Basil popularity in cooking grew quickly and spread throughout many cultures in Asia and Europe. Today, Basil is grown all over the world in small gardens and large greenhouses. The plant has been able to survive in many climatic regions and can adapt to various weather conditions.

 

Importance to People

 

 

Basil has many benefits and important uses especially in cooking. This herb is one of the most important ingredients in Italian or French cooking. Its unique and robust flavor makes it a popular spice in other cultures as well.

Aside from adding extra flavor, Basil can also restore a person’s health. Because it has many essential oils within its leaves, the plant can inhibit the growth of several types of bacteria. These oils have been found to cure cases of staphylococcus, enterococcus, and E. coli bacteria. Eugenol, another oil contained in Basil can act as an anti-inflamatory similar to that of Aspirin or Ibuprofen.

In addition, the oils in Basil leaves emitted in the air can also act as a pesticide against flying insects and various crawling insects as well. Many farmers incorporate Basil in their greenhouses because they repel insects that are harmful to other types of plants. Flying insects are attracted to sources of heat as well as carbon dioxide, but when new gases and scents fill the air, the insects’ sensory systems are confused and do not know where to go. Because of this confusion, the insects seek out areas with the least amount of additional gases and scents; they are repelled.

 

Survivability and Endangered Status

 

Ocimum basilicum is a hardy, resilient plant. In order for new seeds to grow, the plant requires some assistance from a gardener, but can also grow unattended. Basil is grown all over the world, and is in no danger of becoming extinct. Because it is in high demand in many restaurants and households, many agricultural industries plant Basil on a regular basis. The plant is not competitive, but can alter the way other plants around it grow because of its unique oils and repellent capabilities.

 

 

 

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Potential Solutions

 

What are the environmental benefits of planting the Ocimum basilicum plant? From the research conducted on the aromatic herb, it can be concluded that Basil is useful in many aspects of life. Basil is useful in the kitchen, in the garden, and in large communities. There is a great amount of information regarding the benefits of Basil’s unique essential herbs, however, more knowledge is required to fully understand how these oils work within the plant. Below are 2 potential ways of using Basil to help make people’s daily lives better. Each possibility has an analysis of its advantages and disadvantages in order to understand the effect of such an action on society and the environment.

 

Possibility 1 NATURAL PESTICIDE

 

 

In poor communities, particularly in various parts of Manila, diseases from insects can spread rapidly because the people in these communities lack the financial means to purchase insect repellents. If a natural, cost-efficient pesticide was shown to them, harmful insects could be eradicated. The majority of poor people in the city of Manila have no idea that a plant such as basil could repel insects. If they were educated on this matter, and began to plant Basil in their communities, the amount of insects would begin to go down. (Action step)

           

 

Advantages:

1. Using Basil as a natural pesticide would be a cheap, inexpensive, and reusable way of repelling insects from poorer communities. Poor families who perhaps buy chemical pesticides could use the money spent on such things to buy more food and other necessities because they have a cheap, natural pesiticide already in place.

 

2. If insects were repelled from densely populated communities, the amount of people stricken with an insect-caused disease would lessen. In turn, people would not live in fear of catching a deadly disease by merely walking outside their house.

 

3. Planting Basil in communities for the improvement of such communities could become a popular hobby in poor people’s lives. By planting and caring for the plants, families could teach their children about the importance of maintaining the environment. The Bible says in Psalms 24:1 that the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. Since this is God’s earth, people need to care for it in whatever way they can. But, it is not just caring for the earth; it is caring for other people in need as well. Through this possible solution, people could be cared for and shown love, and they could be able to give love to the earth as well. Many poor people do not have any respect for the earth because it is inconvenient and costly to live with high environmental standards. These people need to be taken care of, and shown how nurturing a plant can yield benefits. The Bible tells Christians that they need to help those in need, and through the planting of Basil, help would be provided.

 

Disadvantages:

1. If Basil is planted in communities and the use of store-bought chemical repellants is eliminated, people could become too dependent on the ability of the Basil plant. They might begin to think that because their communities are safe from insects others are as well, and would neglect to take the necessary precautions when traveling outside their communities.

 

2. The presence of Basil could become a source for fighting. People may quarrel over who is the rightful owner of the plant, instead of caring for it as a community. Perhaps some people would not appreciate the presence of a aromatic plant, and would fight to have it removed.

 

3. If insects were repelled from a community because Basil is planted, where would those insects eventually go? There is a great possibility that the insects repelled from one community would move to another, and make matters worse for that community.

 

4. It is known that the presence of Basil repels flying insects, but if the plant was planted, other insects could eventually migrate to the community because there is little competition for survival, and they are not repelled by the Basil’s aroma.

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Possibility 2 SOURCE OF HERBAL MEDICINE

 

Most poor people do not have enough money to buy medicine from local pharmacies. Even common ointments such as Neosporin anti-bacterial ointments are often too expensive to be bought. A solution to this is to for poor people to use the natural healing properties of Basil to rid themselves of infections and other minor health problems.

 

 

Advantages:

1. Poor people would be able to relieve the pain that they have in a cost-efficient manner. Perhaps they do not have sufficient funds to purchase an anti-bacterial medicine from a pharmacy, and would eventually suffer from the lack of proper medical care. The use of Basil as a natural healing resource would reduce the amount of people suffering from health issues such as infections and inflammation.

 

2. Poor people would not have to worry about the prospect of a minor cut turning into a life-threatening infection. They could simply soak their cut in a mixture of Basil and water and reduce the risk of infection within their cut or injury.

 

Disadvantages:

1. If people began to use Basil to treat minor injuries, they may become dependent on the Basil’s medicinal capabilities and neglect needed trips to a doctor or physician.

 

2. If people use Basil for home medicine, the plant may become weak and unhealthy from being plucked frequently, and it may not be able to survive. Perhaps the whole community needed to use the Basil plant for medicine and came to strip the plant of its leaves, the plant would eventually weaken or die from the traumatic experience.

 

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Possibility 3

 

replace this with your information

 

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Bibliography

 

"Basil, Bush." Botanical.com. 10 April. 2008 http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/basbus17.html.

 

"Basil (Ocimum Basilicum)." Gardenguides.com. 8 April. 2008 http://www.gardenguides.com/plants/info/herbs/basil.asp.

 

Christman, Steve. "Ocimum Basilicum." Floridata. 8 April. 2008 http://www.floridata.com/ref/O/ocim_bas.cfm.

 

"Growing, Selecting, and Using Basil." Ohio State University. 11 April. 2008 http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1644.html.

 

"Ocimum Basilicum." Cornell University. 8 April. 2008 http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/medicinal/basil.html.

 

"Ocimum Basilicum." Plants for a Future. 8 April 2008 http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Ocimum+basilicum.

 

Katzer, Gernot. "Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.)." Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages. 9 April. 2008 http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Ocim_bas.html.

 

Quijano, Romeo. Personal Interview. 2 May. 2008.

 

Simon, James E. "Basil." Purdue University. 10 April. 2008 http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/CropFactSheets/basil.html.

 

 

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