Rosemary
Overview
 
Rosemary, , is a woody, perennial
Perennial plant
A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant that lives for more than two years. The term is often used to differentiate a plant from shorter lived annuals and biennials. The term is sometimes misused by commercial gardeners or horticulturalists to describe only herbaceous perennials...

 herb
Herb
Except in botanical usage, an herb is "any plant with leaves, seeds, or flowers used for flavoring, food, medicine, or perfume" or "a part of such a plant as used in cooking"...

 with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple or blue flowers, native to the Mediterranean region. It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae
Lamiaceae
The mints, taxonomically known as Lamiaceae or Labiatae, are a family of flowering plants. They have traditionally been considered closely related to Verbenaceae, but in the 1990s, phylogenetic studies suggested that many genera classified in Verbenaceae belong instead in Lamiaceae...

, which includes many other herbs, and is one of two species in the genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 Rosmarinus
Rosmarinus
Rosmarinus is a small genus of woody, perennial herbs with fragrant evergreen needle-like leaves in the family Lamiaceae, native to the Mediterranean Basin.-Description:...

. The name "rosemary" derives from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 name , derived from from "dew" (ros) and "sea" (marinus), or "dew of the sea" because in many locations it needs no water other than the humidity carried by the sea breeze to live.
Encyclopedia
Rosemary, , is a woody, perennial
Perennial plant
A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant that lives for more than two years. The term is often used to differentiate a plant from shorter lived annuals and biennials. The term is sometimes misused by commercial gardeners or horticulturalists to describe only herbaceous perennials...

 herb
Herb
Except in botanical usage, an herb is "any plant with leaves, seeds, or flowers used for flavoring, food, medicine, or perfume" or "a part of such a plant as used in cooking"...

 with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple or blue flowers, native to the Mediterranean region. It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae
Lamiaceae
The mints, taxonomically known as Lamiaceae or Labiatae, are a family of flowering plants. They have traditionally been considered closely related to Verbenaceae, but in the 1990s, phylogenetic studies suggested that many genera classified in Verbenaceae belong instead in Lamiaceae...

, which includes many other herbs, and is one of two species in the genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 Rosmarinus
Rosmarinus
Rosmarinus is a small genus of woody, perennial herbs with fragrant evergreen needle-like leaves in the family Lamiaceae, native to the Mediterranean Basin.-Description:...

. The name "rosemary" derives from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 name , derived from from "dew" (ros) and "sea" (marinus), or "dew of the sea" because in many locations it needs no water other than the humidity carried by the sea breeze to live. The plant is also sometimes called Anthos, from the ancient Greek word ἄνθος, meaning "flower".

Rosemary is used as a decorative plant in gardens and has many culinary and medical uses. The plant is said to improve the memory and is used as a symbol of remembrance, especially in Australia and New Zealand to commemorate ANZAC Day
ANZAC Day
Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand, commemorated by both countries on 25 April every year to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who fought at Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. It now more broadly commemorates all...

. The leaves are used to flavor various foods, like stuffings and roast meats. Rosemary contains the antioxidants carnosic acid
Carnosic acid
Carnosic acid is a natural benzenediol abietane diterpene found in rosemary and common sage . Dried leaves of rosemary or sage contain 1.5 to 2.5% carnosic acid....

 and rosmarinic acid
Rosmarinic acid
Rosmarinic acid, C18H16O8, is a natural phenol antioxidant carboxylic acid found in many Lamiaceae herbs used commonly as culinary herbs such as lemon balm, rosemary, oregano, sage, thyme and peppermint. Chemically, rosmarinic acid is an ester of caffeic acid with 3,4-dihydroxyphenyl lactic acid...

, and other bioactive compounds including camphor
Camphor
Camphor is a waxy, white or transparent solid with a strong, aromatic odor. It is a terpenoid with the chemical formula C10H16O. It is found in wood of the camphor laurel , a large evergreen tree found in Asia and also of Dryobalanops aromatica, a giant of the Bornean forests...

, caffeic acid
Caffeic acid
Caffeic acid is a hydroxycinnamic acid, a naturally occurring organic compound. This yellow solid consists of both phenolic and acrylic functional groups...

, ursolic acid
Ursolic acid
Ursolic acid is a pentacyclic triterpene acid, used in cosmetics, that is also capable of inhibiting various types of cancer cells by inhibiting the STAT3 activation pathway and human fibrosarcoma cells by reducing the expression of matrix metalloproteinase-9 by acting through the glucocorticoid...

, betulinic acid
Betulinic acid
Betulinic acid is a naturally occurring pentacyclic triterpenoid which has anti-retroviral, anti-malarial, and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as a more recently discovered potential as an anticancer agent, by inhibition of topoisomerase...

, rosmaridiphenol, and rosmanol. Some of these may be useful in preventing or treating cancers, strokes and Alzheimer's Disease
Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer's disease also known in medical literature as Alzheimer disease is the most common form of dementia. There is no cure for the disease, which worsens as it progresses, and eventually leads to death...

.

Taxonomy

Rosmarinus officinalis is one of two species in the genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 Rosmarinus. The other species is the closely related, but less commercially viable, Rosmarinus eriocalyx, of the Maghreb
Maghreb
The Maghreb is the region of Northwest Africa, west of Egypt. It includes five countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania and the disputed territory of Western Sahara...

 of Africa
Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 and Iberia
Iberia
The name Iberia refers to three historical regions of the old world:* Iberian Peninsula, in Southwest Europe, location of modern-day Portugal and Spain** Prehistoric Iberia...

. Named by the 18th-century naturalist
Naturalist
Naturalist may refer to:* Practitioner of natural history* Conservationist* Advocate of naturalism * Naturalist , autobiography-See also:* The American Naturalist, periodical* Naturalism...

 and founding taxonomist Carolus Linnaeus
Carolus Linnaeus
Carl Linnaeus , also known after his ennoblement as , was a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, who laid the foundations for the modern scheme of binomial nomenclature. He is known as the father of modern taxonomy, and is also considered one of the fathers of modern ecology...

, it has not undergone much taxonomic change since.

Description

Rosemary is an aromatic evergreen shrub that has leaves similar to pine needles. The leaves are used as a flavouring in foods like stuffings and roast lamb, pork, chicken and turkey. Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean and Asia, but is reasonably hardy in cool climates. Rosemary can withstand droughts, surviving a severe lack of water for lengthy periods. Forms range from upright to trailing; the upright forms can reach 1.5 m (5 ft) tall, rarely 2 metre. The leaves are evergreen, 2–4 cm (0.78740157480315–1.6 in) long and 2–5 mm broad, green above, and white below, with dense short woolly hair. The plant flowers in spring and summer in temperate climates but the plants can be in constant bloom in warm climates; flowers are white, pink, purple or deep blue.

Mythology

The name derives from the Latin words ros marinus, which translate as dew of the sea. According to legend, it was draped around the Greek goddess Aphrodite
Aphrodite
Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation.Her Roman equivalent is the goddess .Historically, her cult in Greece was imported from, or influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia....

 when she rose from the sea, born of Ouranos's semen. The Virgin Mary is said to have spread her blue cloak over a white-blossomed rosemary bush when she was resting, and the flowers turned blue. The shrub then became known as the 'Rose of Mary'.

Cultivation

Since it is attractive and drought tolerant, Rosemary is used as an ornamental plant in gardens and for xeriscape landscaping, especially in regions of Mediterranean climate
Mediterranean climate
A Mediterranean climate is the climate typical of most of the lands in the Mediterranean Basin, and is a particular variety of subtropical climate...

. It is considered easy to grow and pest-resistant. Rosemary can grow quite large and retain attractiveness for many years, can be pruned into formal shapes and low hedges and has been used for topiary
Topiary
Topiary is the horticultural practice of training live perennial plants, by clipping the foliage and twigs of trees, shrubs and subshrubs to develop and maintain clearly defined shapes, perhaps geometric or fanciful; and the term also refers to plants which have been shaped in this way. It can be...

. It is easily grown in pots. The groundcover
Groundcover
Groundcover refers to any plant that grows over an area of ground, used to provide protection from erosion and drought, and to improve its aesthetic appearance .- Ecosystem :...

 cultivars spread widely, with a dense and durable texture.

Rosemary grows on friable loam soil with good drainage in an open sunny position. It will not withstand waterlogging and some varieties are susceptible to frost. It grows best in neutral to alkaline conditions (pH 7–7.8) with average fertility. It can be propagated from an existing plant by clipping a shoot 10–15 cm (3.9–5.9 in) long, stripping a few leaves from the bottom, and planting it directly into soil.

Cultivars

Numerous cultivars have been selected for garden use. The following are frequently sold:
  • 'Albus' – white flowers
  • Arp' – leaves light green, lemon-scented
  • 'Aureus' – leaves speckled yellow
  • 'Benenden Blue' – leaves narrow, dark green
  • 'Blue Boy' – dwarf, small leaves
  • 'Golden Rain' – leaves green, with yellow streaks
  • 'Gold Dust' -dark green leaves, with golden streaks but stronger than Golden Rain
  • 'Irene' – low and lax, trailing, intense blue flowers
  • 'Lockwood de Forest' – procumbent selection from 'Tuscan Blue'
  • Ken Taylor' – shrubby
  • Majorica Pink' – pink flowers
  • Miss Jessop's Upright' – distinctive tall fastigate form, with wider leaves.
  • 'Pinkie' – pink flowers
  • 'Prostratus' - lower groundcover
  • 'Pyramidalis (a.k.a. 'Erectus') – fastigate form, pale blue flowers
  • 'Roseus' – pink flowers
  • 'Salem' – pale blue flowers, cold hardy similar to 'Arp'
  • 'Severn Sea' – spreading, low-growing, with arching branches; flowers deep violet
  • 'Tuscan Blue' – traditional robust upright form
  • 'Wilma's Gold' – yellow leaves

Culinary use

The leaves, both fresh and dried, are used in traditional Mediterranean cuisine. They have a bitter, astringent taste and are highly aromatic, which complements a wide variety of foods. A tisane
Tisane
A herbal tea, tisane, or ptisan is a herbal or plant infusion and usually not made from the leaves of the tea bush . Typically, herbal tea is simply the combination of boiling water and dried fruits, flowers or herbs. Herbal tea has been imbibed for nearly as long as written history extends...

 can be made from the leaves. When burnt, they give off a mustard-like smell and a smell similar to burning wood, which can be used to flavor foods while barbecuing. Rosemary is high in iron, calcium and vitamin B6
Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin and is part of the vitamin B complex group. Several forms of the vitamin are known, but pyridoxal phosphate is the active form and is a cofactor in many reactions of amino acid metabolism, including transamination, deamination, and decarboxylation...

, 317 mg, 6.65 mg and 0.336 mg per 100 g, respecively. Rosemary extract has been shown to improve the shelf life and heat stability of omega 3-rich oils, which are prone to rancidity.

Medicine

Rosemary has a very old reputation for improving memory and has been used as a symbol for remembrance during weddings, war commemorations and funerals in Europe and Australia. Mourners would throw it into graves as a symbol of remembrance for the dead. In Shakespeare's
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 Hamlet
Hamlet
The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, or more simply Hamlet, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601...

, Ophelia says, "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance." (Hamlet, iv. 5.) A modern study lends some credence to this reputation. When the smell of rosemary was pumped into cubicles where people were working, they showed improved memory, though with slower recall.

Hungary water
Hungary Water
Hungary water was the first alcohol-based perfume, claimed to date to about the late 14th century...

 was first prepared for the Queen of Hungary to " ... renovate vitality of paralyzed limbs ... " and to treat gout. It was used externally and prepared by mixing fresh rosemary tops into spirits of wine. Don Quixote (Chapter XVII, 1st volume) mixes it in his recipe of the miraculous balm of Fierabras
Fierabras
Fiërabras or Ferumbras is a Saracen knight appearing in several chansons de geste and other material relating to the Matter of France...

.

Potential medicinal use

The results of a study suggest carnosic acid, found in rosemary, may shield the brain from free radicals, lowering the risk of strokes and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disease and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis , also referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a form of motor neuron disease caused by the degeneration of upper and lower neurons, located in the ventral horn of the spinal cord and the cortical neurons that provide their efferent input...

, and is anti-inflammatory.
Carnosol is also a promising cancer chemoprevention and anti-cancer agent. A study found that rosemary "produced a significant enhancement of performance for overall quality of memory and secondary memory factors, but also produced an impairment of speed of memory compared to controls."

Rosemary contains a number of potentially biologically active compounds, including antioxidants carnosic acid and rosmarinic acid. Other bioactive compounds include camphor (up to 20% in dry rosemary leaves), caffeic acid, ursolic acid, betulinic acid, rosmaridiphenol and rosmanol. Rosemary antioxidants levels are closely related to soil moisture content. Rosemary may have some anticarcinogenic properties. A study where a powdered form of rosemary was given to rats in a measured amount for two weeks showed a reduction in the binding of a certain carcinogen by 76%, and greatly reduced the formation of mammary tumor
Mammary tumor
A mammary tumor is a tumor originating in the mammary gland. It is a common finding in older female dogs and cats that are not spayed, but they are found in other animals as well. The mammary glands in dogs and cats are associated with their nipples and extend from the underside of the chest to...

s.

Folklore and customs

In the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, rosemary was associated with wedding ceremonies - the bride would wear a rosemary headpiece and the groom and wedding guests would all wear a sprig of rosemary, and from this association with weddings, rosemary evolved into a love charm. Newlywed couples would plant a branch of rosemary on their wedding day. If the branch grew, it was a good omen for the union and family. In ‘A Modern Herbal’, Mrs Grieves says “A rosemary branch, richly gilded and tied with silken ribands of all colours, was also presented to wedding guests, as a symbol of love and loyalty.” If a young person would tap another with a rosemary sprig and if the sprig contained an open flower, it was said that the couple would fall in love.

Rosemary was used as a divinatory herb. Several herbs were grown in pots and assigned the name of a potential lover. They were left to grow and the plant that grew the strongest and fastest gave the answer. Rosemary was stuffed into poppet
Poppet
The word poppet is an older spelling of puppet, from the Middle English popet, meaning a small child or doll. In British Dialect it continues to hold this meaning. Poppet is also a chiefly English term of endearment.-Folk magic:...

s (cloth dolls) to attract a lover or attract curative vibrations for illness. It was believed that placing a sprig of rosemary under a pillow before sleep would repel nightmares, and if placed outside the home it would repel witches. Somehow, the use of rosemary in the garden to repel witches turned into signification that the woman ruled the household in homes and gardens where rosemary grew abundantly. By the 16th century, men were known to rip up rosemary bushes to show that they, not their wives, ruled the roost.

Sprigs of rosemary are worn on ANZAC Day
ANZAC Day
Anzac Day is a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand, commemorated by both countries on 25 April every year to honour the members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps who fought at Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. It now more broadly commemorates all...

 and sometimes Remembrance Day
Remembrance Day
Remembrance Day is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth countries since the end of World War I to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. This day, or alternative dates, are also recognized as special days for war remembrances in many non-Commonwealth...

 to signify remembrance; the herb grows wild on the Gallipoli peninsula.

Health precautions and toxicology

Rosemary in culinary or therapeutic doses is generally safe, but can cause allergic skin reactions when used in topical preparations. According to recent European research, rosemary interferes with the absorption of iron and should not be consumed by those with iron deficiency anemia. A toxicity study of the plant on rats has shown hepatoprotective and antimutagenic activities; however, precaution is necessary for those displaying allergic reaction or are prone to epileptic seizures. Rosemary essential oil
Essential oil
An essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants. Essential oils are also known as volatile oils, ethereal oils or aetherolea, or simply as the "oil of" the plant from which they were extracted, such as oil of clove...

may have epileptogenic properties, as a handful of case reports over the past century have linked its use with seizures in otherwise healthy adults or children. Avoid consuming large quantities of rosemary especially if pregnant or breastfeeding.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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