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Can You Eat Black Basil Leaves? (Explained)

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Last updated on September 23rd, 2022 at 11:45 am

The great basil is widely known as a spice and medicinal herb. It’s consumed by many people and eaten along with several delicacies.

However, consuming the plant’s black leaves or leaves with black spots has caused widespread controversy.

Some believe it doesn’t change anything, while others think it’s dangerous. So what, then, is the truth? 

Can you eat black basil leaves? It is not advisable to consume black basil leaves. Although consuming them doesn’t cause significant harm, the basil is likely bitter and slimy. There’s also a high probability that it’ll spoil the food taste.

There are a lot of myths about basil leaves. Some are true, and some are not so true. Keep reading to know every important thing about basil consumption.

What Does It Mean When Basil Leaves Turn Black?

Many reasons may be responsible for the black coloration of a basil leaf, but the most common cause is the disease known as Bacterial leaf spot or Basil shoot blight. 

The causative agent for this infection is a rampant bacteria known as pseudomonas cichorii.

You will notice some symptoms at the initial state of this plant disease, but the most common spots are found on the basil leaves and sometimes on the stems.

These are usually black or sometimes brown. This condition is experienced when soil with the infection comes in direct contact with the basil leaf plant.

There isn’t any cure for pseudomonas cichorii yet, but some measures have been put to help reduce the damage caused by this disease.

Some of these put-up measures include:

1. Ensuring your basil garden is well ventilated to avoid the growth of bacteria and fungi and supply enough air for the plant to carry out complete metabolism.

2. Water the basil garden from the top carefully to avoid bacteria splashing onto the basil leaves from shallow soil.

3. The store already picked basil leaves in a jar of clean water and used them when needed. However, you should change the water occasionally, and the leaves should be used within three days.

4. Use only organic manure on the basil leaves as they contain fewer chemical contents that can harm the basil since they are very fragile plants. 

Factors Responsible For Black Spots On Basil Leaves!

Aside from the earlier stated cause of black spots on the basil leaves, some other things might be responsible for the black spots. 

Other common causes of black spots on basil include:

1. Exposure to Frost

since basil is a lover of hot, subtropical, and tropical climates, cold temperatures and frost will not do much good. Instead, it will kill the plant; before that, the leaves produce black spots. 

2. Pests

Many known and unknown pests love to feed on basil leaves. But unfortunately, the leaf miner is the widespread one.

Leaf Miners are famous for leaving “grain-like” feeding trails on leaves. Surprisingly, that is the damage done by a leaf miner.

A tip to know when your basil garden is “Leaf miner-infested” is when you begin to spot big black spots in a white ring on your basil leaves.

These black spots result from the larvae of the leaf miner living in the leaf itself. 

Can Black Basil Leaves Harm You?

It would be best if you didn’t consume basils that have turned black or brown as they may not be healthy and have an appealing taste.

Although there are a few things you can do to make black basil fit for consumption, when it is not yet slimy, if it is slimy, please do well to throw it out.

They include:

1. Sun-drying and grinding it to powder for spices. Using basil as a food spice has many health advantages like aiding digestion, eradicating depression, diabetes management, and other benefits.

2. They can be burned together with incense when dried to provide a pleasing house scent and calm nerves. 

Treatment And Prevention Of Black Spots On Basil Leaves 

Basil leaves are susceptible to frost and low temperatures. This condition makes them prone to black spots when exposed.

However, the black dots are the first sign of a dying basil plant. If the temperature reduces in the area where the basil garden is,

it will most likely affect the plant by:
1. Delaying plant growth.
2. Increasing chances of diseases. 
3. Enhancing the development of black spots on the basil leaves.

Protecting your basil leaves from such conditions requires extra time and dedication.

You can start by:

1. Covering up the basils: preventing black spots on your basil leaves can be achieved by covering up the plants in cold temperatures using tents or bell jars. 

2. Trimming down the plants: if your basil leaves are mature enough for harvesting, do so. Take out as many leaves as possible and sundry them for future use. 

3. Hardening the basil seeds before gardening: before you plant the basil seed, you should put the seeds outdoors for some time daily.

Increase the time the seeds spend outdoors with time and do this for about two weeks before planting the seeds; this aids the basil preparation for the outdoor temperatures.

4. Ensuring the soil is always moist is another way of preventing black spots on your basil leaves. When the ground is wet, it tends to be warmer and retain heat than dryer soil. 

5. Trimming off infected and damaged basil leaves: you should trim off black basil from the shrub, so they don’t infect the uninfected ones.

This action will help control and slow the spreading of the black spots until the whole shrub is ready to be harvested or treated. 


Black basils aren’t always useless. As aforementioned, you can do a couple of things with them, but be sure to throw them out if they become slimy and change the odor.

If you are growing basils for commercial purposes, I advise you to see a plant specialist in cases of black spots on basil leaves, so you know just the steps! 


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