Help me save Basil!

Picture CIMG1226.JPG Team, we need differential diagnostic, NOW:

Patients #1, #2, #3 and #4 – a family – let’s call them the Lamiaceaes, were admitted in mid-April: sharing a rather small room, but healthy and showing no sign of infection. They were kept indoors and put on a steady diet of H2O, administered twice daily.

Within days following their admission, they showed signs of discomfort: all limbs progressively went numb, patients could no longer stand upright without assistance. Their health deteriorated exponentially over the course of a week. Finally, patients #1, #2 and #3 all underwent cardiac arrest, followed by acute dehydration, to be declared clinically dead on the seventh day after several failed attempts at resuscitation. Patient #4, youngest member of the family, entered a vegetative state but, in the end, miraculously survived: he emerged from his coma a few weeks later and has been making such an encouraging recovery ever since that doctors have allowed his relocation to the outdoor patio.

It was diagnosed at the time that overcrowding of their room, conjugated with possible lack of fresh air may have caused the sudden and unexpected death of all but one of the Lamiaceaes. Endemic condition or residual infection caught at their previous place of residence was not completely excluded, albeit impossible to prove and somewhat invalidated by the survival of the weakest family member.


Patient #5, whom we shall call Basil, a large-sized fully-grown adult, was admitted two days ago.

Initially showing no discernible symptoms, save for a few very small dark rashes that seemed easily accounted for by the casual outdoor lifestyle he had lead thus far. He was put on a similar twice daily H2O diet and installed outside, alongside recovering patient #4. Yesterday morning, while tending to their morning routine, the nurses alerted me to the worryingly degrading state of health of Basil. The symptoms exhibited were similar to those of the recently deceased patients: weak extremities, lack of responsiveness, difficulties standing unassisted. Temperature has been noticeably mild for the entire duration of his stay: usually in the lower 20’s C. (65 F) during the day, never under 10 C (51 F) at night. Fearing a reaction to its recent diet increase, we decided to withhold all water intake until further notice.

However, as of this morning, Basil’s health has further disintegrated to an alarmingly low level: patient is now in a semi-vegetative state, necrosis is appearing on some limbs, weakness has extended to the entire body… Judging by what we know of the previous cases and the particularly aggressive progression of the disease here, we estimate Basil has very little time left before his internal organs start shutting down one by one: a day, two at the most.

This we simply cannot accept. We cannot let Basil go at such a young and unfulfilled age, when the greater purpose of his presence here has only been merely glimpsed at.
In preparing for the worst, we have harvested and cryogenized some healthy tissues for later use in a few tomato mozzarella salads, perhaps a couple carbonara pasta even… but we still want to believe that Basil has a chance.

We, at the Herbal Diagnostic Medicine department, need your help in identifying and treating this mysterious ailment before it claims yet another innocent life.

Water seems to be at the center of the problem, but in which way? Too much? Not enough? Unrelated? Has the cat been secretly poisoning Basil?

Please help me save Basil.

10 comments

  1. The pot should have good drainage holes. But it needs to be watered daily, if kept outside. They don’t mind the sun. They do quite well when very cold, too. How about some fertilisers?

  2. Indeed, overwatering it would seem… Yet even after I stopped watering it (2 days ago now), it didn’t recover the slightest (I think the ground is pretty drained by now)… Who knew plants were just so fragile… I think I’ll stick with cats: they’re much harder to kill (been trying with mine for a while, to no avail).

    Fertilizer? Dear: we are way beyond fertilizer now… or perhaps some sort of steroid-based fertilizer… At any rate, I’m afraid there’s little to be done now. Save for getting a new one and trying better this time…

  3. I am from Taiwain,Basil grow up around every where! think about the weather,almost over
    30℃, very hot. 1: the pot too small. 2 it like organic fertilizer..3 don’t need so much water
    just likly. (tekitou) 4:this is important,,for Basil’s habit,you need to Gather the old leaves.
    make it be strong, ( the leaves good for spageti ) 5: why don’t you plant Basil in the garden?
    It like sun ,wind,not so wet. and nature! and you say hello to it every day..trust me,will
    going to better!

  4. Ha.ha! when i wake up,first think about Basil,because it is good smell and delicious,in our
    taiwan medicine science,,good cure for females. And in Mr.Nacken’s hompage a lot of
    special knowledge really good work for Basil. 1 But ! the material of pot ! Pottery is good,it can
    countrol the moisture and heat, 2 Mr Dave,if you could show up the Basil picture more clear.
    and we may easy read the leaves condition,and the soil.3 hope you was gathered the old
    leaves,( kare so no haba o to ru ),4 change good soils for it.
    wish can hear good news very soon!!
    yes!! say hello to Basil,don’t forget! they have feeling too!

  5. Thanks everybody for your kind support and suggestion, but I fear Good Ole’ Basil has sadly passed away now. Despite our best effort (increased draining of the pot, sparse watering, daily conversation…) his health never recovered from the first major outbreak and he now stands mostly barren, all his leaves dead or dying… There is some very limited hope that he may some day be reborn with brand new leaves and a stronger health… but we’re not holding our breath.

    But I’ll try again!

    In the meantime, I got some freaking thyme: seeing how this thing grows in the wild in the barren swelteringly hot hills of southern France, I figure there’s just no way I could kill it.

    Hualian: yea, I love the smell (and the taste) of basil. In fact, this may be the reason for my initial overwatering habit (assuming this was what killed it): each time I watered it, its smell really got released all over the house and it was quite nice… I didn’t pick up that many leaves (a few on the first day I noticed it was declining), and now it’s much too late…
    I agree that a real garden would be the ideal solution, unfortunately I currently live in a fortress of solitude located on the fourth floor of a building sitting in the middle of Paris: the nearest garden is shared with half the city. That might be an issue.

  6. Eek! Twice daily watering!? Call the cops – Basil was poisoned! Once every two/three days is all he could have handled, depending on the climate.

    Unfortunately, he’s unlikely to undergo a resurrection – but should another member of the family ever come to visit, remember to groom & water regularly, but not too often! Three plants should let you have yummy salads every day – one plant will do for a couple times a week 🙂

  7. I have a huge Basil plant in my garden, I pulled a limb to bring inside,I put it in a cup of water in my kitchen window. it has stayed fresh for 3 weeks and now has roots on the bottom. so are you sure you watered to much?mine is living in water,

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