By H. Zell (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Rosmarinus officinalis-Rosemary

Family: Lamiaceae or Labiatae

Other names: Elf Leaf, Sea Dew, Polar Plant, Guardrobe, Compass Weed, Dew of the Sea, Mary’s Cloak, Stella Maria, Star of the Sea, Incensier, Rosmarinus officinalis subsp. laxiflorus (Noë ex Lange) Nyman“

Habitat: Native to the Mediterranean region, cultivated widely elsewhere. Dry scrub and rocky places, especially near the sea.

hazardsmallProducts containing rosemary oil may cause erythema (redness) of the skin. Caution needed if allergies. Reportedly used as an abortifacient in large quantities but can lead to deep coma, spasm and vomiting and even death.

Rosemary Herb is commonly grown in the herb garden as a domestic remedy, used especially as a tonic and pick-me-up when feeling depressed, mentally tired, nervous etc. Research has shown that the plant is rich in volatile oils, flavanoids and phenolic acids, which are strongly antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. Rosmarinic acid has potential in the treatment of toxic shock syndrome, whilst the flavonoid diosmin is reputedly more effective than rutin in reducing capillary fragility. Rosmarol, an extract from the leaves, has shown remarkably high antioxidant activity. The whole plant is antiseptic, antispasmodic, aromatic, astringent, cardiac, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, nervine, stimulant, stomachic and tonic. An infusion of the flowering stems made in a closed container to prevent the steam from escaping is effective in treating headaches, colic, colds and nervous diseases. A distilled water from the flowers is used as an eyewash. The leaves can be harvested in the spring or summer and used fresh, they can also be dried for later use. This remedy should not be prescribed for pregnant women since in excess it can cause an abortion. An essential oil distilled from the stems and leaves is often used medicinally, that distilled from the flowering tops is superior but not often available. The oil is applied externally as a rubefacient, added to liniments, rubbed into the temples to treat headaches and used internally as a stomachic and nervine. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is ‘Stimulant’. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Rosmarinus officinalis Rosemary for rheumatism, dyspeptic complaints, loss of appetite, blood pressure problems.

By H. Zell (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Description of Rosemary:

Rosmarinus officinalis, Rosemary is an evergreen Shrub growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 1.5 m (5ft) at a medium rate. 
It is hardy to zone 6 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Mar to October, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.It is noted for attracting wildlife. 

Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
Needs full sun. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

Cultivation of Rosemary:

Rosemary prefers a hot sunny position and a slightly alkaline light dry soil. Dislikes very heavy soils. Intolerant of excessive winter wet. Likes a stony calcareous soil. Plants are smaller when grown on chalky soils, but are more fragrant. Fairly tolerant of maritime exposure and very tolerant of salt spray. Succeeds in a hot dry position. Hardy to between -10 and -15°c, but plants can be damaged or killed in severe winters, old plants are the most susceptible. Rosemary is a polymorphic species that is commonly grown in the ornamental and herb gardens, there are many named varieties. Traditionally, the plant is a symbol of friendship and fidelity and a wreath of it would be worn by a bride to denote love and loyalty. It was also carried at religious ceremonies and funerals in the belief that its pungent scent would ward of disease and evil spirits. The whole plant is highly aromatic. The cultivar ‘Corsican Blue’ is more aromatic than the type. Very tolerant of pruning, plants can regenerate from old wood. A good bee plant, producing pollen early in the year.

Companion plants:

 A good companion for most plants, including cabbages, beans, carrots and sage. Grows badly with potatoes.

Propagation of Rosemary:

Seed – sow spring in a cold frame or greenhouse. Germination can be slow. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow on in a greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 10 – 18 cm with a heel, July/August in a frame or shady border. Very easy, they usually root within 3 weeks. It is best to give the plants some protection for their first winter and then plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer. Cuttings of young shoots in spring in a frame. They usually root well within 3 weeks, prick them out into individual pots and plant them out during the summer. Layering in summer.

Collection: The leaves may be gathered throughout the summer but are at their best during flowering time.

Culinary uses of Rosemary:

Edible Parts: Leaves.
Edible Uses: Condiment;  Tea.

Young shoots, leaves and flowers – raw or cooked. The leaves have a very strong flavour that is bitter and somewhat resinous, the flowers are somewhat milder. They are used in small quantities as a flavouring in soups and stews, with vegetables such as peas and spinach, and with sweet dishes such as biscuits cakes, jams and jellies. Rosemary Recipes will be added at a later date. They can be used fresh or dried.The leaves have a tough texture and so should either be used very finely chopped, or in sprigs that can be removed after cooking. A fragrant tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves. It is said to be especially nice when mixed with tansy.

rosemary,rosemary_officinalisMedicinal uses of Rosemary:

Actions: Carminative, anti-spasmodic, anti-depressive, rubefacient, anti-microbial, emmenagogue.

Part Used: Leaves and twigs.

Indications: Rosemary is a circulatory and nervine stimulant, which in addition to the toning and calming effect on the digestion is used where psychological tension is present. This may show for instance as flatulent dyspepsiaheadache or depression associated with debility. Externally it may be used to ease muscular painsciatica and neuralgia. It acts as a stimulant to both the hair follicles and circulation in the scalp and thus may be helpful in premature baldness. The oil is most effective here.

Priest & Priest tell us that it is a “diffuse stimulant andrelaxing tonic with special influence upon stomach and cerebrum. It soothes the nervous system and is tonic to the vaso-motor function and peripheral circulation. It is a suitable tonic for the elderly” They give the following specific indications: atonic conditions of the stomach; gastric headache; adolescent hypotonia, asthenia with pallid complexion; circulatory weakness following stress or illness.

Combinations: For depression it may be used with Skullcap, Kola and Oats.

Preparations & Dosage of Rosemary:

Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1-2 teaspoonfuls of the dried herb and leave to infuse in a covered container for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.

Tincture: take 1-2 ml of the tincture three times a day.

rosemary in flower
Rosemary flower
Other uses of Rosemary:

Dye,  Essential,  Hair,  Hedge,  Hedge,  Incense,  Repellent.

The growing plant is said to repel insects from neighbouring plants. Branches or sachets of the leaves are often placed in clothes cupboards to keep moths away. An infusion of the dried plant (both leaves and flowers) is used in shampoos. When combined with borax and used cold, it is one of the best hair washes known and is effective against dandruff. An essential oil is obtained from the leaves and flowering stems. One kilo of oil is obtained from 200 kilos of flowering stems. The oil is used in perfumery, soaps, medicinally etc. It is often added to hair lotions and is said to prevent premature baldness. The leaves are burnt as an incense, fumigant and disinfectant. The cultivar ‘Prostratus’ can be used as a ground cover in a sunny position. This cultivar is the least hardy form of the species. The plant can be grown as a hedge, it is fairly resistant to maritime exposure, though when this is coupled with very cold weather the plants can suffer severely. Any trimming is best carried out after the plant has flowered . The cultivar ‘Miss Jessopp’s Upright’ is particularly suitable for hedging. ‘Fastigiatus’ is also very suitable. A yellow-green dye is obtained from the leaves and flowers.

Esoteric uses of Rosemary:

Carried and used in healing poppets for good health, used in love/lust spells, worn to improve memory, used in dream pillows to prevent nightmares, burned as incense for purification and removing negativity. Wear or carry while reading or completing tasks to improve memory of the material and aid clear thinking (great for students!). Use an infusion of rosemary to wash hands before any healing magick. Use in bath magick for purification. Associated with faeries.

The Chemistry:


  • Volatile oil: composed of borneol, camphene, camphor,cineole, limonene, linalool, isobutyl acetate, 3-octanone,terpineol, verbenol etc.
  • Flavonoids: apigenin, diosmetin, diosmin, genkwanin, 6-methoxygenkwanin,hispidulin, sinensetin, luteolin and derivatives
  • Rosmarinic acid and other phenolic acids
  • Diterpenes such as picrosalvin (= carnosol), carnosolic acid androsmariquinone
  • Miscellaneous; rosmaricine, the triterpenes ursolic acid, oleanolic acid & derivatives.