Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
Latin Name: Rosmarinus officinalis
Growth: evergreen perennial Hardiness: zone 8-10 Light: full sun Soil: well-drained, sand or gravel mix Water: slightly moist, not too wet Pests: thrips, spider mites, white fly Diseases: root rot Propagation: cuttings, layering, seeds (species only) Use: culinary, landscaping, crafts
Rosemary is a fragrant evergreen herb native to the Mediterranean. It is used as a culinary condiment, to make bodily perfumes, and for its potential health benefits.
Rosemary is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, along with many other herbs, such as oregano, thyme, basil, and lavender.
Rosmarinus officinalis does well if grown in pots or containers. Provide winter protection if the plant is left outside. This herb is especially susceptible to root rot if it is overwatered. Use a light, well-drained soil with some added sand or gravel and wait to water until the soil is slightly dry.
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 kebabs.
Dry rosemary quickly to help retain its green color and essential oils. Longer stems can be hung upside down in a dark area with good air circulation. Smaller stems can be placed on screens. Rosemary can be frozen, although some loss of color may occur. To freeze, place the sprigs on a cookie sheet that has been covered with waxed paper or place in a Ziploc® bag. Strip off the leaves when they are frozen and store in an airtight container. Leaves can also be placed in ice cube trays with some olive oil and stored in Ziploc® bags after they are frozen.
Possible health benefits
Enhancing memory and concentration
According to research outlined in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, the aroma from rosemary can improve a person’s concentration, performance, speed, and accuracy and, to a lesser extent, their mood.
Antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds
Rosemary is a rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which are thought to help boost the immune system and improve blood circulation.
Laboratory studies have shown rosemary to be rich in antioxidants, which play an important role in neutralizing harmful particles called free radicals.
In Europe, rosemary is often used to help treat indigestion. In fact, Germany’s Commission E has approved rosemary for the treatment of indigestion. However, it should be noted that there is currently no meaningful scientific evidence to support this claim.
Research published in Oncology Reports found that “crude ethanolic rosemary extract (RO)” slowed the spread of human leukemia and breast carcinoma cells.”
Another study, published in Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry, concluded that rosemary might be useful as an anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor agent.
Also, a report published in the Journal of Food Science revealed that adding rosemary extract to ground beef reduces the formation of cancer-causing agents that can develop during cooking.
Scientists have found that rosemary may also be good for your brain. Rosemary contains an ingredient called carnosic acid, which can fight off damage by free radicals in the brain.
Some studies in rats have identified that rosemary might be useful for people who have experienced a stroke. Rosemary appears to be protective against brain damage and might improve recovery.
Prevent brain aging
Some studies have suggested that rosemary may significantly help prevent brain aging. The therapeutic ability of rosemary for prevention of Alzheimer’s shows promise, but more studies are needed.
Protection against macular degeneration
A study published in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, led by Dr. Stuart A. Lipton, Ph.D. and colleagues at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, revealed that a carnosic acid, which is a major component of rosemary, can significantly promote eye health.