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Rosemary: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rosemary in flower
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Rosmarinus
Species: R. officinalis
Binomial name
Rosmarinus officinalis
Latin: Rosmarinus officinalis

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant evergreen needle-like leaves. It is native to the Mediterranean region. It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, which also includes many other herbs.

The name rosemary derives from the Latin name rosmarinus, which is from "dew" (ros) and "sea" (marinus), or "dew of the sea" — apparently because it is frequently found growing near the sea.[2]




Forms range from upright to trailing; the upright forms can reach 1.5 m (5 ft) tall, rarely 2 m (6 ft 7 in).

The leaves are evergreen, 2–4 cm (0.8–1.6 in) long and 2–5 mm broad, green above, and white below with dense short woolly hair.

Flowering, very common in a mature and healthy specimen, blooms in summer in the north; but can be everblooming in warm-winter climates and is variable in color, being white, pink, purple, or blue [1].


Since it is attractive and tolerates some degree of drought, it is also used in landscaping, especially in areas having a Mediterranean climate. It is considered easy to grow for beginner gardeners, and is pest-resistant.

Rosemary grows on friable loam soil with good drainage in an open sunny position, it will not withstand water logging and some varieties may be susceptible to frost. It grows best in neutral - alkaline conditions pH (pH 7-7.8) with average fertility.[3]

Rosemary is easily pruned into shapes and has been used for topiary. When grown in pots, it is best kept trimmed to stop it getting straggly and unsightly, though when grown in a garden, rosemary can grow quite large and still be attractive. It can be propagated from an existing plant by clipping a shoot 10–15 cm (4–6 in) long, stripping a few leaves from the bottom, and planting it directly into soil.

Numerous cultivars have been selected for garden use. The following are frequently sold:

  • Albus — white flowers
  • Arp — leaves light green, lemon-scented
  • Aureus — leaves speckled yellow
  • Benenden Blue — leaves narrow, dark green
  • Blue Boy — dwarf, small leaves
  • Golden Rain — leaves green, with yellow streaks
  • Gold Dust -dark green leaves, with golden streaks but stronger than Golden Rain
  • Irene — lax, trailing
  • Lockwood de Forest — procumbent selection from Tuscan Blue
  • Ken Taylor — shrubby
  • Majorica Pink — pink flowers
  • Miss Jessop's Upright — tall, erect
  • Pinkie — pink flowers
  • Prostratus
  • Pyramidalis (a.k.a. Erectus) — pale blue flowers
  • Roseus — pink flowers
  • Salem — pale blue flowers, cold hardy similar to Arp
  • Severn Sea — spreading, low-growing, with arching branches; flowers deep violet
  • Tuscan Blue — upright


Culinary use

The fresh and dried leaves are used frequently in traditional Mediterranean cuisine; they have a bitter, astringent taste, which complements a wide variety of foods. A tisane can also be made from them. When burned they give off a distinct mustard smell, as well as a smell similar to that of burning which can be used to flavor foods while barbecuing.

Rosemary is extremely high in iron, calcium, and Vitamin B6.[4]

Traditional use

Rosemary illustration from an Italian herbal, ca. 1500

Hungary Water was first prepared for the Queen of Hungary to "renovate vitality of paralyzed limbs" and to treat gout. It was used externally and prepared by mixing fresh rosemary tops into spirits of wine.[5]

Don Quixote (Chapter XVII, 1st volume) mixes it in his recipe of the miraculous balm of Fierabras with revolting results.

Rosemary has a very old reputation for improving memory, and has been used as a symbol for remembrance (during weddings, war commemorations and funerals) in Europe and Australia.[citation needed] Mourners would throw it into graves as a symbol of remembrance for the dead. In Shakespeare's Hamlet, Ophelia says, "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance." (Hamlet, iv. 5.) One modern study lends some credence to this reputation. When the smell of rosemary was pumped into cubicles where people were working, those people showed improved memory, though with slower recall.[6]

In the Middle Ages, rosemary was associated with wedding ceremonies - the bride would wear a rosemary headpiece and the groom and wedding guests would all wear a sprig of rosemary, and from this association with weddings rosemary evolved into a love charm. Newly wed couples would plant a branch of rosemary on their wedding day. If the branch grew it was a good omen for the union and family. In ‘A Modern Herbal’, Mrs Grieves says “A rosemary branch, richly gilded and tied with silken ribands of all colours, was also presented to wedding guests, as a symbol of love and loyalty.” Another example of rosemary’s use as a love charm was that a young person would tap another with a rosemary sprig and if the sprig contained an open flower, it was said that the couple would fall in love. Rosemary was used as a divinatory herb-several types of herbs were grown in pots and assigned the name of a potential lover. Then they were left to grow and the plant that grew the strongest and fastest gave the answer. Rosemary was also stuffed into poppets (cloth dolls) in order to attract a lover or attract curative vibrations for illness. It was believed that placing a sprig of rosemary under a pillow before sleep would repel nightmares, and if placed outside the home it would repel witches. Somehow, the use of rosemary in the garden to repel witches turned into signification that the woman ruled the household in homes and gardens where rosemary grew abundantly. By the 16th century, this practise became a bone of contention; and men were known to rip up rosemary bushes to show that they, not their wives, ruled the roost.[7]

Potential medicinal use

The results of a study suggest that carnosic acid, found in rosemary, may shield the brain from free radicals, lowering the risk of strokes and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's and Lou Gehrig's.[8]

Rosemary contains a number of potentially biologically active compounds, including antioxidants such as carnosic acid and rosmarinic acid. Other bioactive compounds include camphor (up to 20% in dry rosemary leaves), caffeic acid, ursolic acid, betulinic acid, rosmaridiphenol, and rosmanol.

Potential side effects

When rosemary is harvested appropriately and used within recommended guidelines, side effects are minimal. A few instances of allergic skin reactions to topical preparations containing rosemary have been reported.

Recent European research has shown that rosemary interferes with the absorption of iron in the diet, which indicates that it should not be used internally by persons with iron deficiency anemia.[9]

Health precautions and toxicology

Rosemary in culinary or therapeutic doses is generally safe. A toxicity studies of the plant on rats has shown hepatoprotective and antimutagenic activities,[10] however, precaution is necessary for those displaying allergic reaction or prone to epileptic seizures. Rosemary essential oil may have epileptogenic properties, as a handful of case reports over the past century have linked its use with seizures in otherwise healthy adults or children.[11] Rosemary essential oil is potentially toxic if ingested. Large quantities of rosemary leaves can cause adverse reactions, such as coma, spasm, vomiting, and pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) that can be fatal. Avoid consuming large quantities of rosemary especially if pregnant or breastfeeding.[12]

Notes and references

  1. ^ "Rosmarinus officinalis information from NPGS/GRIN". Retrieved 2008-03-03. 
  2. ^ Room, Adrian (1988). A Dictionary of True Etymologies. Taylor & Francis. p. 150. ISBN 9780415030601. 
  3. ^ National Non-Food Crops Centre. "Rosemary". Retrieved on 2009-04-23.
  4. ^ "Nutrition Facts - Rosemary". 
  5. ^ "Rosemary at". 
  6. ^ Moss, M.; et al. (2003). "Aromas of rosemary and lavender essential oils differentially affect cognition and mood in healthy adults". International Journal of Neuroscience 113 (1): 15–38. doi:10.1080/00207450390161903. 
  7. ^ "History, Myths and Legends of Aromatherapy - Rosemary". 
  8. ^ Burnham Institute for Medical Research (2007, November 2). Rosemary Chicken Protects Your Brain From Free Radicals. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 2, 2007, from and
  9. ^ Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders. Rosemary, from
  10. ^ Fahim, Fawzia A. et al. (1999). "Allied studies on the effect of Rosmarinus officinalis L. on experimental hepatotoxicity and mutagenesis". International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition 50 (6): 413–427. doi:10.1080/096374899100987. 
  11. ^ Burkhard, P. R.; et al. (1999). "Plant-induced seizures: reappearance of an old problem". Journal of Neurology 246 (8): 667–670. doi:10.1007/s004150050429. PMID 10460442. 
  12. ^ "Article at HealthComm". 

Further reading

  1. Calabrese, V.; et al. (2000). "Biochemical studies of a natural antioxidant isolated from rosemary and its application in cosmetic dermatology". International Journal of Tissue Reactions 22 (1): 5–13. PMID 10937349. 
  2. Huang, M. T.; et al. (1 February 1994). "Inhibition of skin tumorigenesis by rosemary and its constituents carnosol and ursolic acid". Cancer Research 54 (3): 701–708. PMID 8306331. 

See also

External links


Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

by Abbie Farwell Brown
published in: The New England Magazine / Volume 23, Issue 3. November 1897.

THERE was a long path through the fern,—
       O Rosemary, dost thou not know?
A silver maple at the turn,
       A little gate below.
There was a youth, there was a maid,
She in the light, he in the shade,
When all the world was fair to see,—
       O Rosemary, O Rosemary!

There was a briar by the wall,—
       O Rosemary, hast thou forgot?
A slender, tender hand and small,
       Stained with a crimson spot.
There was a little cry of pain,
Two heads bent low, then raised again;
And all the sun seemed poured on me,—
       O Rosemary, O Rosemary!

There came a sail upon the bay,—
       O Rosemary, didst thou foreknow?
Two blue eyes wandered far away,
       Two cheeks were all aglow:—
A sail which neared and grew until
It cast a heart in shadow chill;
When someone's ship came in from sea,—
       O Rosemary, O Rosemary!

PD-icon.svg This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1927, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ROSEMARY, botanically Rosmarinus, a Labiate plant, the only representative of the genus and a native of the Mediterranean region. It is a low shrub with linear leaves, dark green above, white beneath, and with margins rolled back on to the under face. The flowers are in small axillary clusters. Each has a two-lipped calyx, from which projects a bluish two-lipped corolla enclosing two stamens, the other two, which are generally present in the family, being deficient. The fruit consists of four smooth nutlets. Botanically the genus is near to Salvia, but it differs in the shorter connective to the anther. Rosemary was highly esteemed by the ancients for its aromatic fragrance and medicinal uses. In modern times it is valued mainly as a perfume, for which purpose the oil is obtained by distillation. It doubtless has slight stimulant properties, such as are common to all volatile oils, which may account for the general belief in the efficacy of the plant in promoting the growth of the hair. Rosemary plays no unimportant part in literature and folk-lore, being esteemed as an emblem of remembrance. "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance," says Ophelia. Its use in connexion with funeral ceremonies is not extinct in country places to this day, and it was formerly much valued at wedding festivities. The name "ros marinus" or "ros maris," literally "sea-dew," was probably given in allusion to its native habitat in the neighbourhood of the sea.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also rosemary




A combination of Rose and Mary, referring to the flower as a symbol of Virgin Mary, first recorded in the eighteenth century. It is found in continental Europe as Rosemarie and Rosa Maria. After mid-nineteenth century when flower names became common it may also refer to the herb rosemary, Latin ros marinus "dew of the sea".

Proper noun




  1. A female given name.


  • 1860 Jedediah Vincent Huntington, Rosemary: or, Life or Death, D.&J. Sadler, Co., 1860, page 175:
    "And you - you darling!" - addressing the astonished Rosemary - "will you love your grandmamma? Kiss me, my child." - - -
    "Oh, you tell fibs!" cried the child. "My name is Rose Marie Romarin - is it not, Grandpa?"
  • 1985 Alice Munro, The Progress of Love, Chatto&Windus 1987, ISBN 0701131616, page 53:
    Rosemary. A sweet dark name, though finally a shrill trite woman.


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