This week, the UK’s health authorities are due to publish an update on the health of the British-grown basil that is used to make basil mousse, a delicacy known to millions around the world.
It is estimated that around 30,000 pounds (9,000 euros) worth of basil leaves and flowers are used to grow the dish each year.
However, the BBC’s Mark Thompson reports that the health watchdog has told the BBC that, as of now, the “real problem” for basil is not a shortage of the plant’s leaves, but the fact that it is “a very fragile plant”.
“We know the plants have suffered from drought for a number of years now and it’s a very vulnerable plant,” Mark Thompson writes.
“In the long term, we don’t know what will happen to it but, so far, we are not really sure.”
The BBC says that the UK has produced about 60,000 tonnes of basil in the last two decades.
However the BBC has warned that “the real problem for basil in Britain, and in Europe as a whole, is the fact the plant hasn’t grown back”.
“If we had to guess, it would be a lot worse than that, because we know basil grows back,” Dr Stephen Brown, an ecologist at the University of Surrey, told the broadcaster.
“We’ve got some of the best varieties of the genus but the plants that are grown for basil are the best, so they’ve been over-harvested and the plants are getting worse.”
The UK’s Department of Agriculture said in a statement that the plant has been used to create “a range of dishes including bread, bread-crumbs and jam” and is “considered a national treasure”.
However, this does not mean that the British basil industry is set to return to full health, with BBC’s Matthew Price reporting that it may be more than a decade before the UK can truly recover. “
The Department of Health has set out plans to grow more basil in England and Wales in the next five years.”
However, this does not mean that the British basil industry is set to return to full health, with BBC’s Matthew Price reporting that it may be more than a decade before the UK can truly recover.
“There is still a lot of pressure on the UK to get it back to where it was a decade ago,” he says.
“It’s still quite a long way off, and there is no guarantee the plant will be able to return.”
More to follow.