This is what happens to a basil plant when it is allowed to continue on with life well past one year. I wish I had a context shot to really show just how big and woody this plant had become. The bush came up past my hips and was so huge I didn’t even recognize it as a basil plant. I passed by it several times, and on a couple of separate occasions without giving it a second glance.
I don’t know which variety this is. The look and size of the leaves remind me of a variety called ‘Lesbos’, but the plants I have grown have never developed a purplish hue like this one. ‘Lesbos’ has a strong smell, but the leaves of this particular plant were very strong with an even deeper, spicier scent. When I asked, my host said it was medicinal and not used in cooking.