Rosemary, the Remembrance Herb

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Any information found on thegigglinggardengnome.com is intended for informational and educational purposes only and not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you have a medical condition or are seeking medical advice, please speak to your doctor or other medical professional.

“There’s rosemary and rue. These keep seeming and savor all winter long. Grace and remembrance be to you.”

William Shakespeare (Winter’s Tale, Act 4, Scene 4)

Botanical Information

Scientific name: Salvia Rosmarinus (formerly Rosmarinus Officinalis)

Family: Lamiaceae 

Rosemary is a tender, evergreen, perennial shrub that can grow anywhere from three to six feet tall and wide. It has a strong aroma both from the flowers and the foliage. The flowers are two lipped, small, and white, purple, or  blue ( but some varieties can be pink). The stems are squareish and tough with leaves that are thin and pointy.

Rosemary has recently been reclassified as a salvia, causing its scientific name to change from rosmarinus officinalis to Salvia Rosmarinus. Whatever it is called, it is still a superstar aromatic herb. It is related to mints, basil,  lavender, hyssop, ect… 

Use rosemary in soups, stews, meat rubs, sauces, go nuts with it!

History

Rosemary is reputed to have originated in the area of the Mediterranean Sea. It was named “Sea Dew” because it grew close to the sea and looked dewy from the boats. Ancient people believed that its fragrance could both improve your memory and filter negative things like illness from the air. It was burned in sickrooms and carried around and sniffed to ward away illness. People used to throw a sprig of rosemary into graves of loved ones to ensure that they would always be remembered. 

Growing Information

Seed starting is tricky with this herb because it requires a high soil temperature to germinate and is prone to damping off. So, you have to keep the seed starter warm and moist, but not too moist because rosemary seedlings are dramatic AF. It is generally recommended that you start with a store bought plant or a cutting instead. These plants are reputed to propagate well from cuttings.

To do so, in the spring, during a time when there is unlikely to be a freeze anytime soon, take a 6 inch cutting from the new growth and pot in cactus potting soil. Love on it and keep it inside until it becomes well established. You will get the best results if you keep it in the pot until the following spring so that you can shelter it in the winter. That way, the cold weather won’t wipe it out. As soon as you are past your last frost date, harden off and transplant outside.

Rosemary is a warm climate plant and is only really hardy to USDA zones 8 and up. Anywhere north of that needs to keep it in a container for the above mentioned overwintering. It likes full sun, humid air, and super well drained soil with a bit more lime than usual. It doesn’t like to have soggy roots, but does prefer regular watering when it is getting established. If you really want it to thrive, spray the leaves with a fine mist of water once a week.

Lore

Photo by Wendy van Zyl: https://www.pexels.com/photo/empty-clear-glass-bottle-2926322/

Rosemary is used widely to help with memory and represents remembrance in plant symbolism. Placing a sprig or crown of it in your hair when you have a test is said to help you to remember the material. It is also said that a tea made from the leaves could be used to remember what was forgotten. 

It is used for protection and as a purifier or energetic cleanser. Hence, the use in both sickrooms and exorcisms. It can be burned as an incense, added to your  bath, or infused into a wash (hand wash, mop water, ect…) to rid negative energy or spirits and cleanse a space or tool. Hang or plant some by your doors and gates to keep out negative energy and entities. 

Since it is said to have antimicrobial properties, some people use rosemary to help with dandruff. They make a tea from the leaves and use it as a hair rinse after their shower.

Warning

Rosemary oil should not be taken internally and super large amounts of the leaves are considered to be toxic. Check with a medical professional to decide if it is healthy for you or what dosage to use. Use caution with this herb if you are pregnant. 

“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance, pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.”

 William Shakespeare (Hamlet, Act 4, Scene 5)
Photo by Ian Yates on Unsplash

Sources

The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica. “Lamiaceae

plant family.” Encyclopedia Britannica, www.britannica.com/plant/Bignoniaceae. Accessed 4, Nov 2022.

“Salvia rosmarinus Common Name(s): AnthosRosemary.” North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox, plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/salvia-rosmarinus/. Accessed 4, Nov 2022.

“Rosemary Planting, Growing, and Harvesting Rosemary Plants.” The Farmer’s Almanac, www.almanac.com/plant/rosemary. Accessed 4, Nov 2022.

“Flower Meanings: The Language of Flowers.” The Farmer’s Almanac, 17, Oct 2022, www.almanac.com/flower-meanings-language-flowers. Accessed 4, Nov 2022.

Muckle, Sheila. “PLANT FOLKLORE: MYTHS, MAGIC, AND SUPERSTITION.” Gardener’s Path, 1, June 2016, gardenerspath.com/plants/plant-folklore/. Accessed 4, Nov 2022.

Walker, J.D. “A genus move: Rosemary joins a new family.” Courier-Tribune, 7, July 2020. www.courier-tribune.com/story/news/local/2020/07/07/genus-move-rosemary-joins-new-family/112289482/. Accessed 4, Nov 2022.

Cutler, Karan Davis. Burpee- The Complete Vegetable & Herb Gardener: a guide to growing your garden organically, Macmillan/Burpee. 1997, New York. p. 358-360

McVicar, Jekka. The Complete Herb Book, Introduction by Penelope Hobhouse, Firefly Books, 2007. P. 202-205.

Holms, Roger & Grant, Greg. Texas Home Landscaping including Oklahoma, Edited by Rita Buchanan, Neil Soderstrom, Sarah Disbrow Interior Design by Deborah Fillion Illustrated by Steve Buchanan, Michelle Angle Farrar, Lee Hov, Robert LaPointe, Rick Daskam, Teresa Nicole Green, Creative Homeowner, 1998, 2006, 2010, 2016. P. 143.

Cunningham, Scott. Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, Llewellyn Publications,1985, 2000. P. 218-219.


Conway, DJ.  Magical Folkhealing Herbs, Oils, and Recipes for Health, Healing, and Magic, Llewellyn Publications, 2019. P. 172-173.

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