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In the present study, the effects of elevated zinc concentrations on germination, physiological and biochemical parameters were investigated in basil (Ocimum basilicum L.). Results indicate that zinc excess (1–5 mM ZnSO4) did not affect germination process, but it drastically reduced vigor index and radicle elongation, and induced oxidative stress. Exposure of basil plants to 400 and 800 µM Zn decreased aerial parts and roots dry biomass, root length and leaf number. Under these conditions, the reduction of plant growth was associated with the formation of branched and abnormally shaped brown roots. Translocation factor < 1 and bioconcentration factor > 1 was observed for 100 µM Zn suggested the possible use of basil as a phytostabiliser. Excess of Zn supply (> 100 µM) decreased chlorophyll content, total phenol and total flavonoid contents. Additionally, an increased TBARS levels reflecting an oxidative burst was observed in Zn-treated plants. These findings suggest that excess Zn adversely affects plant growth, photosynthetic pigments, phenolic and flavonoid contents, and enhances oxidative stress in basil plants.