< Back to Newsletters

Rosemary

Rosemary


We watch for the light of the morn to break,
And color the eastern sky
With its blended hues of saffron and lake,
Then say to each other, "Awake! awake!
For our winter's honey is all to make,
And our bread for a long supply!"

Then, off we hie to the hill and the dell,
To the field, the meadow and bower.
In the columbine's horn we love to dwell,
To dip in the lily with snow-white bell,
To search the balm in its odorous cell,
The mint and the rosemary flower.

We seek the bloom of the eglantine,
Of the pointed thistle and brier;
And follow the steps of the wandering vine,
Whether it trail on the earth, supine,
Or round the aspiring tree-top twine,
And reach for a state still higher.
As each, on the good of her sisters bent,
Is busy, and cares for all,
We hope for an evening with hearts content,
For the winter of life without lament
That summer is gone, with its hours misspent,
And the harvest is past recall! Gould, Hannah Flagg, 1789-1865: SONG OF THE BEES.

"Eh, Aaron, my lad, are you there?" said Silas; "I wasn't aware of you; for when Eppie's talking o' things, I see nothing but what she's a-saying. Well, if you could help me with the digging, we might get her a bit o' garden all the sooner."
"Then, if you think well and good," said Aaron, "I'll come to the Stone-pits this afternoon, and we'll settle what land's to be taken in, and I'll get up an hour earlier i' the morning, and begin on it."
"But not if you don't promise me not to work at the hard digging, father," said Eppie. "For I shouldn't ha' said anything about it," she added, half-bashfully half-roguishly, "only Mrs Winthrop said as Aaron 'ud be so good, and---
"And you might ha' known it without mother telling you," said Aaron. "And Master Marner knows too, I hope, as I'm able and willing to do a turn o' work for him, and he won't do me the unkindness to anyways take it out o' my hands."
"There, now, father, you won't work in it till it's all easy," said Eppie, "and you and me can mark out the beds, and make holes and plant the roots. It'll be a deal livelier at the Stone-pits when we've got some flowers, for I always think the flowers can see us and know what we're talking about. And I'll have a bit o' rosemary, and bergamot, and thyme, because they're so sweet-smelling; but there's no lavender only in the gentlefolks'gardens, I think."
"That's no reason why you shouldn't have some," said Aaron, "for I can bring you slips of anything; I'm forced to cut no end of 'em when I'm gardening, and throw 'em away mostly. There's a big bed o' lavender at the Red House: the missis is very fond of it." "Well," said Silas, gravely, "so as you don't make free for us, or ask for anything as is worth much at the Red House: for Mr Cass's been so good to us, and built us up the new end o' the cottage, and given us beds and things, as I couldn't abide to be imposin' for garden-stuff or anything else."
"No, no, there's no imposin'," said Aaron; "there's never a garden in all the parish but what there's endless waste in it for want o' somebody as could use everything up. It's what I think to myself sometimes, as there need nobody run short o' victuals if the land was made the most on, and there was never a morsel but what could find its way to a mouth. It sets one thinking o' that---gardening does. But I must go back now, else mother 'ull be in trouble as I aren't there."
George Eliot 1819-1880: Silas Marner

Etymology
In Latin tongue, the plant was called rosmarinus; most sources interpret it as ros marinus "dew of the sea"; truly, rosemary often grows at low altitude and therefore near the sea. It does, however, not typically populate the coast, where the spray of sea water might motivate the name. Thus, it has been argued that rosmarinus itself is a product of folk etymology. Possible candidates for the original name are Greek rho—ps "shrub" and m?ron "balm", which make a good name for the aromatic plant, but pose more linguistic problems. Lastly, the Greek name of sumac, rhožs, is sometimes set into relation with rosmarinus.
http://www-ang.kfunigraz.ac.at/~katzer/engl/generic_frame.html?Rosm_off.html

 

Botanical Source.ÑRosemary is an erect, perennial, evergreen shrub, 2 to 4 feet high, with numerous branches of an ash color, and densely leafy. The leaves are sessile, opposite, linear, over an inch in length, and about 2 lines broad, entire, obtuse at the summit, revolute at the margins, of a firm consistence, dark-green and shining above, and downy and sometimes whitish beneath. The flowers are few, bright-blue or white, subsessile, and borne in short, opposite, axillary, and terminal racemes; the bracts are shorter than the calyx; the calyx purplish, campanulate, and villose; the corolla not ringed in the inside, somewhat inflated in the throat, with 2 equal lips, the upper of which is erect and emarginate, the lower trifid, with the middle lobe very large, concave, and hanging down. Stamens 2; filaments minutely toothed near the base; anthers linear, with 2 divaricating, confluent cells. Upper lobe of style very short. Seeds 4, oblong, naked at the base of thecalyx (L.ÑW.). http://www.ibiblio.org/herbmed/eclectic/kings/rosmarinus.html

Images of Rosemary
http://caliban.mpiz-koeln.mpg.de/~stueber/thome/band4/tafel_066.html
wonderful image of the plant
http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/research/library/kohler/1761_026.jpg
another superb botanical drawing

History
The Ancients were well acquainted with the shrub, which had a reputation for strengthening the memory. On this account it became the emblem of fidelity for lovers. It holds a special position among herbs from the symbolism attached to it. Not only was it used at weddings, but also at funerals, for decking churches and banqueting halls at festivals, as incense in religious ceremonies, and in magical spells.
At weddings, it was entwined in the wreath worn by the bride, being first dipped into scented water. Anne of Cleves, we are told, wore such a wreath at her wedding. 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. Together with an orange stuck with cloves it was given as a New Year's gift -allusions to this custom are to be found in Ben Jonson's plays.
Miss Anne Pratt (Flowers and their Associations) says:
'But it was not among the herbalists and apothecaries merely that Rosemary had its reputation for peculiar virtues. The celebrated Doctor of Divinity, Roger Hacket, did not disdain to expatiate on its excellencies in the pulpit. In a sermon which he entitles "A Marriage Present," which was published in 1607, he says: "Speaking of the powers of rosemary, it overtoppeth all the flowers in the garden, boasting man's rule. It helpeth the brain, strengtheneth the memorie, and is very medicinable for the head. Another property of the rosemary is, it affects the heart. Let this rosmarinus, this flower of men ensigne of your wisdom, love and loyaltie, be carried not only in your hands, but in your hearts and heads."
' Sir Thomas More writes: 'As for Rosmarine, I lett it runne all over my garden walls, not onlie because my bees love it, but because it is the herb sacred to remembrance, and, therefore, to friendship; whence a sprig of it hath a dumb language that maketh it the chosen emblem of our funeral wakes and in our buriall grounds.' In early times, Rosemary was freely cultivated in kitchen gardens and came to represent the dominant influence of the house mistress 'Where Rosemary flourished, the woman ruled.'
The Treasury of Botany says:
'There is a vulgar belief in Gloucestershire and other counties, that Rosemary will not grow well unless where the mistress is "master"; and so touchy are some of the lords of creation upon this point, that we have more than once had reason to suspect them of privately injuring a growing rosemary in order to destroy this evidence of their want of authority.'
Rosemary was one of the cordial herbs used to flavour ale and wine. It was also used in Christmas decoration.
'Down with the rosemary and so,
Down with the baies and mistletoe,
Down with the holly, ivie all
Wherewith ye deck the Christmas Hall.' ---HERRICK.
In place of more costly incense, the ancients used Rosemary in their religious ceremonies. An old French name for it was Incensier. The Spaniards revere it as one of the bushes that gave shelter to the Virgin Mary in the flight into Egypt and call it Romero, the Pilgrim's Flower. Both in Spain and Italy, it has been considered a safeguard from witches and evil influences generally. The Sicilia believe that young fairies, taking the form of snakes, lie amongst the branches.
It was an old custom to burn Rosemary in sick chambers, and in French hospitals it is customary to burn Rosemary with Juniper berries to purify the air and prevent infection. Like Rue, it was placed in the dock of courts of justice, as a preventative from the contagion of gaol-fever. A sprig of Rosemary was carried in the hand at funerals, being distributed to the mourners before they left the house, to be cast on to the coffin when it had been lowered into the grave. In many parts of Wales it is still a custom.
One old legend compares the growth of the plant with the height of the Saviour and declares that after thirty-three years it increases inbreadth, but never in height.
There is a tradition that Queen Philippa's mother (Countess of Hainault) sent the first plants of Rosemary to England, and in a copy of an old manuscript in the library of Trinity College, Cambridge, the translator, 'danyel bain,' says that Rosemary was unknown inEngland until this Countess sent some to her daughter.
Miss Rohde gives the following quotation from Banckes' Herbal:
'Take the flowers thereof and make powder thereof and binde it to thy right arme in a linnen cloath and it shale make thee light and merrie. 'Take the flowers and put them in thy chest among thy clothes or among thy Bookes and Mothes shall not destroy them. 'Boyle the leaves in white wine and washe thy face therewith and thy browes, and thou shalt have a faire face. 'Also put the leaves under thy bedde and thou shalt be delivered of all evill dreames. 'Take the leaves and put them into wine and it shall keep the wine from all sourness and evill savours, and if thou wilt sell thy wine thou shalt have goode speede. 'Also if thou be feeble boyle the leaves in cleane water and washe thyself and thou shalt wax shiny. 'Also if thou have lost appetite of eating boyle well these leaves in cleane water and when the water is colde put thereunto as much of white wine and then make sops, eat them thereof wel and thou shalt restore thy appetite againe. 'If thy legges be blowen with gowte, boyle the leaves in water and binde them in a linnen cloath and winde it about thy legges and it shall do thee much good. 'If thou have a cough drink the water of the leaves boyld in white wine and ye shall be whole. 'Take the Timber thereof and burn it to coales and make powder thereof and rubbe thy teeth thereof and it shall keep thy teeth from all evils. Smell it oft and it shall keep thee youngly. 'Also if a man have lost his smellyng of the ayre that he may not draw his breath, make a fire of the wood, and bake his bread therewith, eate it and it shall keepe him well. 'Make thee a box of the wood of rosemary and smell to it and it shall preserve thy youth.'
From the Grete Herbal: 'ROSEMARY. - For weyknesse of ye brayne. Against weyknesse of the brayne and coldenesse thereof, sethe rosemaria in wyne and lete the pacyent receye the smoke at his nose and keep his heed warme.' http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/r/rosema17.html

Devonlife magazine: Rosemary
more legends and lore

Edible Uses
Young shoots, leaves and flowers - raw or cooked. The leaves have a very strong flavour that is bitter and somewhat resinous[238], the flowers are somewhat milder. They are used in small quantities as a flavouring in soups and stews, with vegetables such as peas and spinach, and with sweet dishes such as biscuits cakes, jams and jellies[1, 2, 9, 15, 27, 52, 244]. They can be used fresh or dried[21].The leaves have a tough texture and so should either be used very finely chopped, or in sprigs that can be removed after cooking[238]. A fragrant tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves[21, 183]. It is said to be especially nice when mixed with tansy[183].
http://www.ibiblio.org/pfaf/cgi-bin/arr_html?Rosmarinus+officinalis

Other Uses
The growing plant is said to repel insects from neighbouring plants[14, 18, 89, 201]. Branches or sachets of the leaves are often placed in clothes cupboards to keep moths away[148]. An infusion of the dried plant (both leaves and flowers) is used in shampoos[4, 14, 201]. When combined with borax and used cold, it is one of the best hair washes known and is effective against dandruff[4]. An essential oil is obtained from the leaves and flowering stems[11, 57, 89, 171]. One kilo of oil is obtained from 200 kilos of flowering stems[4]. The oil is used in perfumery and soaps, etc[11, 57, 89, 171]. It is often added to hair lotions. The leaves are burnt as an incense, fumigant and disinfectant[61, 244]. The cultivar 'Prostratus' can be used as a ground cover in a sunny position[188]. This cultivar is the least hardy form of the species[188]. The plant can be grown as a hedge, it is fairly resistant to maritime exposure[49, 75], though when this is coupled with very cold weather the plants can suffer severely[11]. Any trimming is best carried out after the plant has flowered[188]. The cultivar 'Miss Jessopp's Upright' is particularly suitable for hedging[188]. 'Fastigiatus' is also very suitable[K]. A yellow-green dye is obtained from the leaves and flowers[168]. http://www.ibiblio.org/pfaf/cgi-bin/arr_html?Rosmarinus+officinalis

good monograph http://ars-genome.cornell.edu:80/cgi-

Rosemary Essential Oil-Camphor chemotype/Spain-EcoCert Organic

Olfactory Description-High, crisp, penetrating camphoraceous-woody-herbaceous topnote. Quickly recedes into dry slightly minty-forest-herbaceous heartnote. Very pleasant, clear, refreshing sensation on the olfactory receptors
sample-$2 1 oz-$7 4 oz-$24 8 oz-$45 16 oz-$81 32 oz-$140

Rosemary Essential Oil/Eco Cert Organic(Spain) camphor chemotype GC-Analysis
a-pinene 18.00%
Fresh Sweet Pine Earthy Woody
camphene 8.15
Fresh Herbal Woody Camphor Mint
b-pinene 5.65
Sweet Fresh Pine Woody Hay Green
myrcene 3.10
Fresh Peppery Terpy Spicy Balsam Plastic
1.8-cineole 28.10
Eucalyptus Mint Herbal Rosemary
para cymene 1.45 Fresh Citrus
limonene 3.00
Lemon Citrus Citral Fresh Sweet
camphor 14.60
Camphor Minty Phenolic Woody
borneol 3.55
Pine Woody Camphor
a-terpineol 1.55
Fresh Sweet Lilac Floral
verbenone 1.30
Camphor Menthol Celery
bornyl acetate 1.25
Pine Woody Fresh Pine Needles
b-caryophyllene 2.85
Sweet Woody Spice Clove Dry

Rosemary Essential Oil, Verbenone chemotype
Available end of August
Olfactory description:
soft,slightly sweet herbaceous-resinous topnote. Topnote spectrum is rich and complex. As topnote fades a fine, fresh green minty/ citrus/herbaceous heartnote appears. It is a very radiant note. Its complexity matches that of the topnote. Many nuances can be explored within it and its effect is quite heady. A really delightful olfactory exploration awaits those who are patient enough to concentrate on the story unfolding in their nasal passages. Very nice tenacious lengthy dryout
sample-$3 1/2 oz-$12 1 oz-$19 4 oz-$69 8 oz-$128 16 oz-$233 32 oz-$400

Rosmarinus pyramidalis Essential Oil/Highland Rosemary/France-EcoCert Organic
Available end of August
Olfactory description
Delicate quiet sweet spicy/herbaceous topnote, green resinous/pinaceous notes begin to emerge shortly into the dryout and intermingle with the herbaceous qualities of the topnote. The wonderful complex of aromas continues to manifest deep into the dryout.
sample-$3 1/2 oz-$11 1 oz-$16 4 oz-$61 8 oz-$112 16 oz-$203 32 oz-$350

Rosmarinus officinalis Essential OIl/South Africa-EcoCert Organic
Olfactory description
Fine warm radiant sweet herbaceous topnote, a subdued dry warm powdery slight cinnamic note unfolds in the heartnote interweaving itself with the sweet herbaceous note which continues to display its quality as evaporation progresses. The olfactory receptors journeyed on many colorful olfactory pathways with this oil. Nice energzing oil as are all the Rosemary oils-The Herb of Remembrance
sample-$2 1 oz-$8 4 oz-$30 8 oz-$56 16 oz-$102 32 oz-$175

Rosmarinus officinalis Essential Oil/South India-
Clear slightly fruity herbacous topnote, quickly passes into a simple clear slightly sweet herbaceous heartnote which also shows touches of fresh pinaceous resonance A mild minty camphoraceous note is detectable deep into the dryout. The olfactory receptors enjoy the gentle clear simplicity of this oil
Limited supply sample-$2 1 oz-$7 4 oz-$24

A note for those who love olfactory analysis-
This is a subject which one can never tire of. It is full of many unique surprises. Oftentimes we tend to base our evaluation of an oil on its topnote but to really get to know an oil one has to go deeper and become friends with them. A well distilled oil will reveal many intricate complexities that surprise one at every stage. It is often hard to say where a topnote ends, a middle note begins, a middle note ends and a base note begins. I have often seen that notes appear and disappear throughout the process of evaporation. There seems to me to be a total emanation of an oil which is much more than its individual parts and when doing any analysis one is trying to put into words something which is forever changing in its olfactory landscape. Indeed from second to second subtle nuances appear and disappear(or so it seems to me) In short, concentrated attention on any one oil can lead to intriguing olfactory discoveries within the course of an hour or longer Right now I am sitting smelling the so-called base notes of three different rosemary's and each while having a distinct personality continues to reveal very complex attributes even after over an hour of study. Indeed, I would suggest that many oils are beautiful perfumes in themselves if one is willing to go deep into their personalities.

Chemotypes of Rosemary-
Main Biochemical Constituents Rosmarinus officinalis has several chemotypes:
HIGHLAND ROSEMARY EXTRA Rosmarinus Officinalis Pyramidalis Type
Main Biochemical Constituents:
Monoterpenes - a-Pinene (3-24 %), b-Pinene (1-8 %),
Camphene Alcohols - Borneol Ketones - Camphor Oxides - 1,8-Cineole (7-60 %)
ROSEMARY BORNEONE Rosmarinus Officinalis Camphor Type (Chemotype I)
Chemical Type: Ketone Oxide Aldehyde
Main Biochemical Constituents:
Monoterpenes - a-Pinene (12 %), b-Pinene, Camphene (22 %), a-Myrcene, b- Myrcene, Phellandrene, Limonene Alcohols - a-v-Terpenin-4-ol, Borneol (4 %), Iso-Borneol, Cis-Thujanol-4, Trans-Thujanol-4, P-Cymene-8-ol Esters - (-) Borneol Acetate, a-Fenchyl Acetate Oxides - 1,8-Cineole (up to 30 %), Caryophyllene Oxide, Humulene Epoxides (I and II) Ketones - 3-Hexanone, Methyl Heptanone, Camphor (up to 30 %), (+) - Verbenone, Carvone
ROSEMARY CINEOLE: Rosmarinus Officinalis Cineole Type (Chemotype II)
Chemical Type: Oxide
Main Biochemical Constituents: Monoterpenes - a-Pinene, b-Pinene, Camphene Sesquiterpenes - b-Caryophyllene, Alcohol - Borneol Esters - Borneol Acetate Oxides - 1,8-Cineole Ketones - Camphor
ROSEMARY VERBENONE: Rosmarinus Offcinalis Verbenone Type (Chemotype III)
Chemical Type: Ketone (Borneone-Acetate Verbenone) Main Biochemical Constituents: Monoterpenes - a-Pinene (22 %). b-Pinene, Camphene, Myrcene, Limonene, a-Terpinene, Terpinolene Sesquiterpenes - b-Caryophyllene Alcohols - Borneol (up to 7 %), a-Terpineol, Terpinene-4-ol Esters - Borneol Acetate Ketones - Verbenone (up to 37 %), Camphor (up to 15 %) Oxides - 1,8-Cineole (up to 19 %) http://www.essentialbotanicals.com/oldfeature3.html
Constituents of Rosemary officinalis http://www.csl.gov.uk/ienica/Seminars/SPEC%20CHEMS/svoboda.pdf
very fine comprehensive report on essential oils

As they were travelling between Marseilles and Toulon they entered a road bounded on each side by mountainous rocks, which sometimes receding, left between them small but richly cultivated vallies; and in other parts so nearly met each other, as to leave little more room than sufficed for the carriage to pass; while the turnings of the road were so angular and abrupt, that it seemed every moment to be carrying them into the bosom of the rock. Thro' this defile, as it was quite shady, they agreed to walk.
In some places huge masses impended over them, of varied form and colour, without any vegetation but scattered mosses; in others, aromatic plants and low shrubs; the lavender, the thyme, the rosemary, the mountain sage, fringed the steep craggs, while a neighbouring aclivity was shaded with the taller growth of holly, phillyrea, and ever-green oak; and the next covered perhaps with the glowing purple of the Mediterranean heath. The summits of almost all, crowned with groves of fir, larch, and pine.
Emmeline in silent admiration beheld this beautiful and singular scene; and with the pleasure it gave her, a soft and melancholly sensation was mingled. She wanted to be alone in this delightful place, or with some one who could share, who could understand the satisfaction she felt. She knew nobody but Godolphin who had taste and enthusiasm enough to enjoy it.
Emmeline, the Orphan of the Castle. By Charlotte Smith.1749-1806