Sweet basil upper leaf surface (Ocimum basilicum), coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM). The upper leaf surface contains numerous multicellular, glandular and non-glandular trichomes. Shown here is a short glandular trichome (round) and a non-glandular trichome (tapered hair). The small glandular trichome, which contains an essential oil, is closely opposed to the leaf surface. The essential oil of sweet basil is derived from eugenol and has a strong clove scent (the same chemical as in cloves). Leaf non-glandular trichomes (hairs) serve as a protective function against pests and also helps to reduce leaf evaporation. Chemical compounds in basil oil have potent antioxidant, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties, and potential for use in treating cancer. Magnification: x320 when shortest axis printed at 25 millimetres.
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