Rosmarinus officinalis L.
Family : Labiatae
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis),
a small perennial evergreen shrub belonging to the mint family,
is indigenous to the Mediterranean countries and is cultivated in
gardens in Europe and the United States. The small narrow leaves
(about 2 cm long) have a very spicy odor that makes them valuable
as a flavouring and scenting agent. This ancient strewing herb and
Romany charm was revered in ancient Greece for its association with
memory and became a symbol of faithfulness to lovers. During Medieval
times, it was thought to be a protector from evil.
Rosemary is a dense, woody evergreen
perennial that grows up to 3 m. It has bushy stems with cracked
grey bark. The young shoots are covered with narrow aromatic, hard
leaves which are dark and shiny above and greyish beneath. Small
blue flowers on short racemes appear in early summer.
This herb rarely produces seed except
under the most favourable conditions, so that it will be necessary
to obtain plants or rooted cuttings to start. They are planted in
well-drained, alkaline soil, in an exposed area. The plant will
make a dense shrub 2 feet in diameter and about 3 feet in height
by the end of the second season. Blooming generally begins when
the plants are 2 years old or older. Some protection is necessary
to prevent winter injury in localities where low temperatures are
frequent. The growth can be pruned back several inches once or twice
each season after the plants become large enough. The herb from
the prunings should be dried on a screen and the leaves stripped
from the stems and stored in closed containers.
Rosemary contains about 0.5 - 2.0%
volatile oil. Major components found are a-pinene, d-linalool and
Rosemary is a popular culinary flavouring
added to meat dishes, baked foods and Mediterranean recipes. The
fresh or dried leaves may be used sparingly for special accent with
cream soups made of leafy greens, poultry, stews, and sauces. Rosemary
oil is used in processed meats for flavouring. Rosemary extract
has antioxidant properties in food products.
Medicinal and other use
In addition, it has recently
been found to possess antimicrobial activity. Leaves have medicinal
properties and are used for treating depression, migraine, and disorders
of the liver and digestion. Leaves made into ointment is useful
against neuralgia, rheumatism, eczema and minor wounds. They are
also used as hair rinses and mouthwashes.