Latin Name: Rosmarinus officinalis

Part Used: Leaves

History & Cultural Significance: 

Rosemary is native to the dry, rocky areas of the Mediterranean, especially along the coast. The genus name Rosmarinus derives from the Latin words ros and marinus which together translate to “dew of the sea.” Rosemary has been used since the time of the early Greeks and Romans. Greek scholars often wore a garland of the herb on their heads to help their memory during examinations. In the ninth century, Charlemagne insisted that the herb be grown in his royal gardens. The Eau de Cologne that Napoleon Bonaparte used was made with rosemary. The herb was also the subject of many poems and was mentioned in five of Shakespeare’s plays.

A sprig of rosemary was often placed in the hands of the deceased at a funeral because it is a symbol of remembrance. Brides often wore rosemary at their weddings because it was also a symbol of happiness, loyalty and love. Legend has it that rosemary originally had white flowers which were changed to blue ones when the virgin Mary placed her cloak upon it while resting during her flight to Egypt.

Use: Rosmarinus officinalis has a myriad of uses for the cook, crafter and landscaper. This strongly flavored herb should be used sparingly for cooking. Poultry, fish, lamb and beef are all enhanced by its pungent flavor. In addition, try it with tomatoes, cheese, eggs, potatoes, squash, soups and salad dressings. Well-developed woody stems can be used as skewers for shish kebobs. In the landscape, rosemary is often used to make to make topiaries and hedges. The herb can be planted along stone walls or pathways and it grows well in containers. Crafters use rosemary to make wreaths, garland, and bath products. The plant also produces a yellow-green colored dye and is used in aromatherapy. 

Actions: Carminative, antispasmodic, antidepressant, rubefacient, antimicrobial, emmenagogue, antioxidant.

Constituents: Volatile oil (borneol, camphene, camphor, cineole, limonene, linalool); flavonoids (apigenin, diosmetin, diosmin, luteolin and derivatives); rosmarinic acid and other phenolic acids, diterpenes (carnosol, carnosolic acid, and rosmariquinone); rosmaricine, triterpenes (unsolicited acid, oleanolic acid).

Safety Considerations: No side effects or drug interactions have been reported.

Formulator's Notes: I often use Rosemary CO2 extract as an antioxidant to prevent oxidation and rancidity in formulations containing oil and/or butters. 


Author Unknown. 2009. Rosemary Quick Facts. The Herb Society of America.

Hoffman, D. Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, Vermont, Healing Arts Press, 2003. 

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