Rosemary is a plant of the mint family (Lamiaceae) whose leaves are used to flavour foods.
It is a woody plant with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple, or blue flowers, native to the Mediterranean region.
The name “rosemary” has nothing to do with the rose or the name Mary, but derives from the Latin name ros marinus, which literally means “dew of the sea.”
Usage of rosemary dates back to 500 B.C. when it was used as a culinary and medicinal herb by the ancient Greeks and Romans.
In ancient times rosemary was believed to strengthen the memory; in literature and folklore it is an emblem of remembrance and fidelity.
Rosemary is slightly stimulating; in traditional medicine it was a popular aromatic constituent of tonics and liniments
Rosemary is a perennial shrub and usually grows to about 1 meter (3.3 feet) in height, though some plants can reach up to 2 meters (6.6 feet) tall.
The leaves are evergreen, 2–4 cm (0.8–1.6 in) long and 2–5 mm (0.08-0.2 in) broad, green above, and white below, with dense, short, woolly hair.
The flowers in spring and summer in temperate climates, but the plants can be in constant bloom in warm climates; flowers are white, pink, purple or deep blue.
The fresh and dried leaves of rosemary are used frequently in traditional Mediterranean cuisine as a herb. The leaves have a bitter, astringent taste, which complements a wide variety of foods.
Rosemary is used sparingly, dried or fresh, to season foods, particularly lamb, duck, chicken, sausages, seafood, stuffings, stews, soups, egg dishes, potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, other vegetables, and beverages.
Rosemary is a good source of Vitamin A, Thiamin and Magnesium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Iron and Manganese.
The health benefits of rosemary include increase blood circulation to the brain, boost memory, reduce inflammation, treat Alzheimer’s, reducing the severity of asthma attacks, heal cancer, relieve pain, and protect the immune system.
Its fragrant oil is an ingredient in numerous toiletry products and in vermouth. The essential oil content is from 0.3 to 2 percent, and it is obtained by distillation; its principal component is borneol.
Rosemary is also used to scent cosmetics, perfumes and in insect repellants.
Rosemary was considered sacred to ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks.
It is easily pruned into shapes and has been used for topiary.