The Labiatae family is made up of over several thousand species. Botanists use the name “Lamiaceae” when discussing this particular plant family. The original name is Labiatae because these plants have petals combined into a lower and upper lip.
The Mediterranean is an important region for studying plant biodiversity. Many plants have been studied in this area. Since ancient times plants in the Labiatae family have been widely used by humans. Because of their traditional uses by Mediterranean populations, the most recognized genuses are: Thymus, Lavandula, Salvia, Melissa and Rosmarinus. These herbs have been used in food, for aromatic purposes, for making liqueur, as medicinal plants, to fight parasites, as house decorations, for dyeing cloths and in religious ceremonies.
Cultivation of aromatic and medicinal plants is so important. Peppermint, sage,lavender, and rosemary are significant species within this family. The importance of Labiatae is increasing, because of all their useful characteristics.Most members of this plant family are cultivated, because of their medicinal qualities.These plants are used to improve health and to prevent many degenerative diseases. Since ancient times, the Labiatae plants was the basis for nearly all medicinal therapy until synthetic drugs were developed in the nineteenth century.
The Labiatae is one of most important families of aromatic plants in international trade. These plants are generally produced in developing countries especially some of them, like salvia and lavender, play a major role in these economies. The plants are vital in the French production of aromatic plants in relation to the world market. France helps in the growing economies of China and the Soviet Union because they are exporting the aromatic plants.
Many components of these herbs have been studied in some species, such as their potent antioxidant properties. Some of the most common Lamiaceae grown as condiment and aromatic plants in warm areas are basil, rosemary, oregano, sage, savory and thyme. In history, these plants have had an important role in herbal remedies and aromatherapy. Some Labiatae plant products can be unsafe, such as Salvia divinorum, because of their psychoactive effects.
Basil, rosemary, and thyme are common in the Liguria region of Italy. Basil is the main ingredient of the famous Ligurian sauce which is known as pesto. Basil is a major economic product for the Ligurian agriculture. In Liguria, there are more than one hundred small farms that are a part of basil marketing.