The rosemary plant in native to the Mediterranean and the Latin name means dew of the sea. It is a member of the mint family and rosemary is also known as the polar weed and compass plant. The flowers are light blue but there have been many different strains developed with scented leaves and varied flowers. Rosemary is a good plant for beginners as it is easy to grow and pest resistant. It can be grown in a garden and used for decoration, as it is easily pruned for topiary, and frequently reaches five feet in height. Both the leaves and root are used in cooking and various herbal remedies.
Rosemary has a reputation for improving memory and has been traditionally used to remember those who have died by their friends who place a sprig of rosemary on the coffin. This might be proved by studies which have been done with Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig patients, having a marked improvement on their memory. The carnosic found in rosemary has been found to block free radicals in the brain.
Recent studies done by the Rutgers University has been instrumental in reducing the incidences of skin cancer in mice by the application of rosemary oil. Animals that have rosemary in their diet had a reduced cancer rate then those which did not. Rosemary oil is not to be taken internally as it can cause problems in the digestive tract and kidneys. A tea made from the leaves steeped in hot water is fine. If you are expecting a child, do not use this medicine, but you can use the rosemary plant as a seasoning.
Folk tradition in Spain claims that the rosemary was one of the bushes that gave shelter to the Virgin Mary as she and Joseph fled to Egypt. Rosemary was first introduced to England by Queen Phillipa’s mother. One tradition says that where Rosemary thrives, the woman rules the house. The queen of Hungary used rosemary with white wine to make a tonic used for weakened limbs and stimulating the brain. This same application was used as a preventive tonic for gout.
When planting rosemary, remember it is a good plant to be near cabbage, sage, carrots and bean plants as it deters pests that like to feed on them. The rosemary plant is not endangered but is cherished and enjoyed throughout the world as a seasoning.