Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Rosemary ~ A Shrub of Myth And Legend

Rosmarinus officinalis

John Gerard, the 16th century writer of the Herbal or General History of Plants noted, “Rosemary comforteth the cold, weak, and feeble brain in a most wonderful manner.” The legends, myths, and beliefs surrounding Rosemary are numerous, but today, most people are familiar with it because it is used extensively in Mediterranean cooking and because its wonderful, pungent fragrance is a popular ingredient in many cosmetics products.

The name, Rosmarinus, is a Latin derivation of ros maris, which means dew of the sea. Legend says where one can hear the sea Rosemary grows best. The Latin term, officinalis, means, “used medicinally.” Herbalists use the plant to help with dandruff control, eczema, and as an antibacterial. It has many other uses, both herbally, and also in landscaping design.

This shrub thrives in USDA Zones 8b-10 and is heat and cold tolerant. It can live for over thirty years. If left untrimmed, it can reach six feet in height and width. Pruning improves the look and the health of the plant. Rosemary produces numerous small blue flowers in very early spring, and in fall. It is easily propagated with cuttings.

Of all the myths and legends, the one I find most appealing is that Sleeping Beauty was awakened not only by a kiss from Prince Charming, but also with a touch from a sprig of Rosemary.


Green thumb said...

Dear No Rain, you have a wonderful blog going on desert landscape gardening. No wonder Kate recommended your link to me for answering my queries.
My recent post about cacti and succulents features some unidentified plants. Please help me identify them. Also I'm not sure of whether the small Agave I've featured is actually Agave Palmeri or not.

Best Wishes
India Garden

kate said...

I think I need some Rosemary because I'm freezing (another night of frost) and my brain is feeble this early in the morning.

I would love to grow Rosemary outdoors. Every fall, I bring in my rosemary plant, but they rarely survive to the next spring.

I agree with you... Sleeping Beauty waking from the touch of a sprig of Rosemary is much more appealing than the usual version.

nikkipolani said...

That's a very handsome specimen and a fantastic informative entry! In my area, rosemary has to be either starved (I keep in semi-shade so it grows more slowly and produces just enough I need for cooking) or it gets very woody very quickly and gets that Cousin It look.

Julie said...

Lucky Sleeping Beauty! She probably had a delicious dinner when she woke up!

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

Wow! Now that is one fine clump of rosemary, for some reason it never looks that good here in zone 4 :).

chigiy at Gardeners Anonymous said...

Your rosemary is shaped so nicely. It's so roundy and symmetrical. My rosemary is one of those that didn't get trimmed.