Member of the family Lamiaceae
Rosemary is a common wild plant in the Mediterranean countries. It is an evergreen perennial shrub, and it grows 2-4 cm long leaves that resemble the needle-like leaves of pine. The shrub can reach a height of up to two meters.
In warm climates rosemary flowers all year with flowers varying in color, most common light blue, but also purple, pink or white. In northern climates it can flower in summer if the weather gets warm enough.
The name rosemary derives from the Latin name rosmarinus. Ros means dew and marinus means sea. Why it literally is called dew of the sea, some explains with the fact that in some places the plant can survive with no other water than what it gets from the humidity of the sea-breeze. Others claim that it got its name from it’s often pale dew- like blue flowers, combined with its growing near the sea.
Rosemary has a pleasant smell, and in an old book by the French naturalist Félix-Archimède Pouchet, The Wonders of Nature, he writes: “Several miles from shore you can sense the Spanish coast due to the smell of rosemary.”
Virgin Mary is associated with rosemary. It is said that she spread her cloak over a rosemary plant with white flowers which turned blue because of this. Blue is the lapis lazuli, the precious stone, which originally was grinded to make the pigment for coloring the depictions of Mary throughout art history. The rose also is Mary’s flower.
You can grow rosemary from seeds, or propagate from cuttings of the twisted wood of non-flowering branches in early summer. Rosemary prefers a lot of sun and friable loam soil with good drainage. Rosemary should be grown in pots and brought indoors in climates with freezing temperatures.
The leaves can be harvested at any time, and you can use the leaves fresh, or dry them by leaving them on a drying rack, on low temperature, in the oven over the night.
The taste of rosemary is different when dried – it becomes less bitter.