(Rosmarinus officinalis)

Other Names: Polar Plant, Compass-weed, Compass Plant, Romarin, Romero, Rosmarin, Alecrim

The evergreen leaves of this shrubby herb are about 2 to 3 cm long, linear, revolute, dark green above and paler and glandular beneath, with an odour pungently aromatic. The shrub can grow to 1 m high, the flowers are small and pale blue. There are silver and goldstriped varieties, but the green-leaved variety is the kind used medicinally.

Rosemary herb is used throughout Europe in local culinary dishes. It is made into an oil and used for medicinal purposes. It is a common ingredient in various eau de colognes. An infusion of the dried plant (both leaves and flowers) combined with borax and used when cold makes one of the best hairwashes known. It forms an effectual remedy for the prevention of scurf and dandruff.

Oil of Rosemary has the carminative properties of other volatile oils and is an excellent stomachic and nervine, curing many cases of headache.It is used in hair-lotions for its odour and effect in stimulating the hair-bulbs to renewed activity and preventing premature baldness. The oil is also used externally as a rubefacient and is added to liniments as a fragrant stimulant. Hungary water - made using rosemary tops in full flower and wine first invented for the queen of Hungary, is said to renovate the vitality of paralysed limbs. Hungary water was also considered very efficacious against gout in the hands and feet, being rubbed into them vigorously. The young tops, leaves and flowers can be made into an infusion, called Rosemary Tea, which, taken warm, is a good remedy for removing headache, colic, colds and nervous diseases, care being taken to prevent the escape of steam during its preparation. It will relieve nervous depression.

Rosemary prefers warm shaded conditions. Once established it will survive the coldest of UK winters, however, the silver and gold striped varieties are less hardy. Avoid waterlogging.

Rosemary does best in a light, rather dry soil, and in a sheltered area, such as the base of a low wall with a south aspect. On a chalk soil it grows smaller, but is more fragrant.

Rosemary is propagated by seeds, cuttings and layers and division of roots. Seeds may be sown in a warm, sunny border. Cuttings, taken in August, 15 cm long, and put into a shady border, two-thirds of their length in the ground, will root and be ready for transplanting the following autumn. Layering may be readily accomplished in summer by pegging some of the lower branches under a little sandy soil.

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