Ocimum basilicum

Coming up: a big batch of pesto.

Like yesterday’s lavender, basil is in the Lamiaceae family—along with mint, rosemary, sage, savory, marjoram, oregano, hyssop, and thyme, and other medicinal herbs such as catnip, salvia, bee balm, wild dagga, and oriental motherwort.

Lamiaceae stems are frequently square in cross section, but this is not found in all members of the family, and is sometimes found in other plant families. It’s a good indicator, but not dispositive. It’s the flower shape that really indicates belonging. Hmm, that’s a good topic for a future nature journal page.


The lavender’s fading, but the bees are still enjoying it.

The English word lavender came into use in the 13th century, and is thought to derive from Old French lavandre, ultimately from Latin lavare from lavo (to wash), most likely because crushed lavender flowers would be added to water for bathing, and washing hair and garments. It belongs to the Lamiaceae (mint) family.

heteromeles arbutifolia

The toyon berries are putting on a good show right now. This is the shrub for which Hollywood is named, though it’s not a type of holly at all. Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) is a prominent component of the coastal sage scrub plant community, and a part of drought-adapted chaparral and mixed oak woodland habitats. It is the sole species in the genus Heteromeles.

Butterflies, bees and hummingbirds love the summer flowers, and the autumn berries are devoured by a large variety of birds, including cedar waxwings, quail, towhees, Western bluebirds, robins, and mockingbirds.