If ever Miss Lavender had a sister, as Miss Chamomile is really like a cousin belonging to the Asteraceae Family, it would be Miss Rosemary, I mean, she is literally from the same family, the ‘Lamiaceae’ family, so how can we argue. But as every sister is, they have their differences and therefore different preferences for style, colour, shades and hues, and here Miss Rosemary typically has dainty blue to pale lilac flowers that attract those ‘busy bees’, both the honey and native bees who buzz their way around Miss Rosemary’s flowers. Yet, she is not so well known for her flowers as beautiful as they are, it is her leaves they want. We should mention that she does have other flower colours which must be noted, such as white, pink and a darker blue, and so lovely, and these come from her various cultivars. Her flowers as good as they are, just haven’t caught the Herbalist’s eye as much as her leaves, which have the real efficacy, and this girls no ‘bimbo’ just flashing her colours, she has something to say and do.
Lavender and Rosemary have the same heritage in that they both have a Mediterranean culture, where lavender came from the rocky hillsides of the Mediterranean and rosemary came from the seaside of the Mediterranean. This is probably why the name “Rosemary” comes from the Latin – Ros marinus, meaning – ‘Dew of the sea’, and the flowers smattered around the leaves could look like dew/salt drops just hanging there; what is your thinking?
Said to be written in cuneiform thousands of years before Christ, and then the next mention comes from the ancient Egyptians who used it in their burials, and after that the next mentions of rosemary was from the ancient Greeks such as Pliny the Great and Pedanius Dioscorides and the Romans. She even made it over to China after about 200 years, then to Merry Old England ‘officially’ around the 1300’s, and then America around the 17th century and from there she spread globally.
How to use Rosemary
The herb rosemary has literally many uses other than just culinary uses, which are fine, because hey, it tastes and smells great, and why wouldn’t you. So lets look at a few of them, there are bodily uses, such as, perfumes, in cosmetics, toiletries, soaps, shampoos, hair rinses for a hair tonic and conditioners. In potpourris, and used either in the dried leaf, in oil form or as a water and sprayed. To promote sleep, place a handful of dried leaves into a cloth sachet and put it under the edge of a child’s pillow. Rosemary is an excellent Mood Tonic, and dried bunches can be tied up in the air to act as a fly deterant and as a sachet again, it can be place into closets as a moth deterant as well. And finally have you tried ‘Spice balls’ for some unforgettable and wonderful aromas.
Medicinally, it can be used in herbal teas, liniments and a chest rub, in a wine (this is similar to a tincture), used as an essential oil, as a douche, and a warm douche for the vagina, or you can add the prepared liquid (decoction) for a Rosemary bath, Ahhhhh, I’m melting.
I won’t supply any recipes for meat dishes as there is just so many out there that are wonderfully made and easy to follow. Well, don’t let me stop you, off you go, find something yummy, and then write back and tell me about it.
So easy to make:
- Place 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary leaves, or 2 to 3 teaspoons of chopped fresh leaves into a herbal tea infuser and place it in a cup
- Pour in boiling hot water
- Cover to keep the volitile oils in
- Steep for 5 to 15 minutes (longer times will be more bitter)
- Add a little sweetener such as raw honey or stevia or erythritol
- Place a handful of chopped fresh rosemary leaves into a glass jar
- Gently warm up some raw honey to thorougly cover the rosemary leaves
- Make sure the leaves are fully mixed in and covered
- Seal with a lid and place in a warm spot for at least 1 to 2 weeks
- Warm gently to help strain out the leaves, and rebottle and label
- Use it on buttered toast or whatever you like, so long as it tastes great
Potpourri Uplifter ingredients:
- 1 cup of dried rose petals, plus a few buds mixed in for good looks
- 1/2 a cup of dried rosemary leaves
- 1/2 a cup of dried orange slices
- 1/2 a cup of dried lemon slices
- 1/2 a cup of lavender flowers and some leaves
- And a spritz or two of Bergamot oil
Mix carefully and spritz it a few times whilst mixing gently and enjoy.
Note: You can make these from fresh ingredients and then dry them in the oven at 93C or 200F for two hours or until fully dried out.
- Place 50grams of chopped rosemary leaves into a glass jar
- Pour 500mls or 1 pint of alcohol such as vodka over the leaves
- Seal the bottle and place in a cool place
- Shake the bottle vigorously each day
- After 1 week, strain and label the bottle with its name
- As needed rub onto stiff muscles and sore joints
- Put 3 to 5 drops of Rosemary essential oil into 2 teaspoons of almond oil
- Rub onto the chest for relief of respiriatory distress
Rosemary hair rinse
- Place a handful of squashed or well chopped rosemary leaves into mug
- Pour in boiling hot water, and cover
- Allow to steep for 15 to 20 minutes
- When cool enough to use safely, and after shampooing
- Strain and run the rinse slowly through hair, and thoroughly massage the scalp and gently rubbing the hair as well
The process shown below can used for other herbs such as lavender as well, which is more calming and less stimulating. It is easier to put in 30 drops of essential oil into a bath, but by making a decoction from rosemary leaves is far superior.
- Place 4 handfuls of rosemary leaves into 1 litre of water
- Bring it to boil and then simmer for 20 minutes
- Strain out the leaves and pour into a already prepared bath
- Optionally and better, you can add 4 cups of Epsom salts, which really does help
- Soak wonderfully for 20 minutes
Rosemary does help to stimulate the vascular system whilst helping with the mood.
Rosemary can be used as a ‘filler’ or a ‘thriller’ in both large pots and in gardens. Prostrate Rosemary, or creeping rosemary, R. officinalis prostratus, can be an interesting version to have in your garden due to its ‘prostrating/hanging’ branches. Or if it grows well in your area, rosemary is excellent as a hedge, beautifully screening out unwanted neighbours, whilst attracting bees and fragrance to your home. Rosemary is also a very good companion plant, working well with sage. Some veggies that companion plant with rosemary are beans, cabbage, cauliflower and carrots. Rosemary helps to repel most sap-sucking insects and is great for attracting ‘predatory’ insects to your garden, enabling more ‘organic’ control of pests.
How to grow Rosemary
- Fill a suitable seed raising container with seed raising mix
- Sprinkle some seed on top of the mix
- Lightly rub you fingers over the top, gently rubbing the seed into the mix
- Spray water lightly over the seeds and mix
- Keep the mixture just on the moist side but not wet
- Place a bag over the container, keeping the bag clear from the seed
- It will take approximately 3 months before they germinate
- Once they have begun to grow i.e. put out a few leaves, plant them into larger containers or in a suitable place in your garden
- From seed, rosemary will take a ‘Very’ long time before you get a substantial crop, so I probably wouldn’t try
Cutings are the best and fastest way to get things going, saving you heaps of time.
- Find a healthy rosemary plant
- Find one with young healthy branches
- Don’t use old woody branches
- Unflowered cuttings tend to work better
- Take off cuttings at about 8cm to 12cm long
- These can be cut from the same ‘branch’, just don’t plant them upside down
- Carefully strip off 4 – 5cm of leaves from off the bottom
- Fill some pots with ‘cutting’ mixture
- Push a hole into the mixture with a dibbler, a stick will do
- Push the cutting into the mixture, at least one to two bare nodes into the mix
- Press down and around the cutting to firm it in
- Water the cuttings in carefully
- Watering lightly every day for two weeks
- Then water about every second day for about a month
- At this stage you should have a reasonably healthy root system
- Repot into a larger pot or plant into your garden
Also you can propagate through root division or by air laying.
Maintenence and Prevention
Rosemary tends to have five main pests or diseases, and they are:
Small brown sap sucking insects called Spittle bugs, these leave small foamy white excretions, normally not a serious problem, but when you see them, hose them off with a jet of water and these foamy excretions from your plant.
Aphids and White fly
Sap suckers such as aphids and also white fly can harm your plant, and although you can use some chemicals on them, it is better to hose them off with a good jet of water, especially if you intend to eat the stuff.
Root rot is a sad one, as generally it is now impossible to fix. So the best thing to do is give the plant a eulogy and then throw it in the bin. Root rot is usually prevented by planting in well-draining soil and don’t water it too much. Pots and raised beds work well with rosemary.
Powdery Mildew is often due to high humid conditions, poor ventilation, and moist and shady areas. Generally the best way to treat powdery mildew is a fungicide spray, so unless you have a natural version, you may not want to eat from it after that.
This starts at planting, rosemary prefers lighter and low acid soils, so a little lime may be useful here. Do not plant your plants too close together and allow about 1 – 1.5 metres apart (3 – 5′ apart). Don’t plant in shady areas or damp places in your garden.
Most of the leaves are collected in the mid-morning once the dew or moisture has dried off as this helps to prevent mould and mildew forming during the drying process, storage and ruining the supply later on.
To pick its leaves go out into your garden or wherever you planted it, (don’t pick your neighbours unless you’ve asked) and take some garden snips and carefully cut off a branch. Place them into a suitable container or basket, but don’t squash them or damage them in any way, and don’t pick everything off, just cut off enough to do the job, that is, a few sprigs to stick into your lamb roast, for example.
As your picking them, beware of damaged, sick or diseased leaves and make sure your leaves are free from defects, such as, brown edges and yellow or dead leaves as these will ruin your pick, and won’t be as effective. Also, be aware of debris such as unknown leaf matter, dirt, dust or ash, or any other matter that should not be there, plus insects such as aphids and spiders and insect eggs that can be found on these branches.
The leaves need to be dried quickly in a well-ventilated room and not in the sun as this may cause the loss of the volatile oils from time and heat. Spread out the leaves onto brown wrapping paper or paper towelling into a thin layer. Make sure that they are not piled on top of each other and the air can get around the leaves. The leaves once dry, should retain their colour and aroma and remain whole, looking the same as the original pick. Be aware that bugs may crawl out from the leaves, so be kind and provide a way of escape for them.
If your worried about something getting on the dried leaves, whilst drying them, then drape a light mesh over the top without touching them.
Store your beautiful smelling rosemary leaves in a sealed bottle, it can be clear, but must be kept out of the sunlight, and in a cool place away from heat, otherwise keep in an amber coloured jar and still away from heat. Either way, make sure that the bottle is labelled with its contents and dated. They will keep for at least two years like this. If you see any mould throw it out.
Macerating rosemary is best to be done in a glass due to its higher oil content.
The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Health Care Professional first.
Leaves and top sprigs
Minimum to maximum of dried leaf is 1.5 – 3.0g per day
Carminative, spasmolytic, antioxidant, antimicrobial, circulatory stimulant, and hepatoprotective
Improves memory, concentration, and mental performance, enhances phase 2 liver detoxification, a cardiovascular disease preventative, tension headache, and debility. Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s – cerebral antioxidant, ADHD, slows ageing process. Topically – myalgia, sciatica, neuralgia, wound healing, and hair loss – alopecia
Essential oil – cineole, alpha pinene, camphor; phenolic diterpenes – carnosol, carnosic acid; rosmarinic acid, flavonoids, and triterpenoids
Don’t take with mineral supplements
This is uncommon
Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.
Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda