A Mint By Any Other Name
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) makes its appearance as a strongly aromatic, needle-like foliage with small lavender-blue flowers that bloom in clusters in the late spring and early summer. The plant normally grows about one to two feet tall, but can reach as high as six feet. In warmer climates, rosemary plants serve as hedges or ground cover for slopes. Ancient Greeks and Romans knew this shrub well. In their world, it enjoyed a reputation for improving memory and rejuvenating the spirits. Greek scholars wore garlands of rosemary during examinations in order to improve their memory and concentration. Shakespeare also wrote that it improved recollection.
An age-old superstition led people to bind rosemary to their legs in an attempt to relieve the pain of gout. It often showed up at funerals, in Christmas decorations, and at weddings where it was presented to brides with the hope that they’d enjoy a happy marriage.
While rosemary is associated with various legends, it finds common use today as a fragrance in soaps, shampoos, hair conditioners, and bath lotions. The oil is used in perfumery, ointments, cosmetics, and aromatherapy. Its dried leaves add fragrance to potpourri.
Rosemary, a member of the mint family that includes such popular seasonings as basil, oregano, sage, and thyme, is a valuable culinary herb. It’s a common ingredient in French and Italian dishes and can flavor stews, entr