Simple Herbs for Food and Medicine: Rosemary

Rosemary is a shrub with leaves about 1 inch long on a woody stem. The leaves are linear, revolute, dark green above, and paler green and glandular beneath. It has an aromatic, pungent scent with a camphor-like quality to it. The flowers are small and pale blue. This plant has an abundance of essential oils running through it, mostly in the sepals of the flower. Rosemary in its culinary use is famous in Europe. It adds a unique flavor to vegetables and poultry dishes. Rosemary typically is the dominant flavor when used in a recipe (but not always). 

Rosemary for remembrance—This plant is famous for its ability to enhance the memory. Many of our most famous writers, herbalists, and healers have much to say about this wonderful plant. 


Lindley and Moore, in 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.


Sir Thomas More writes:

As for Rosmarine, I let 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 burial grounds.


Medicinal Properties:

— astringent, tonic, circulatory stimulant, diaphoretic, carminative, anti-spasmaodic, emmenagogue, nervine, aromatic, cephalic (relating to the head)

— nerve tonic

— helps with a headache caused by anxiety or nervousness, and especially with poor circulation; as a remedy, it should be taken as a warm tea

— helps aid in digestion

— induces sweating

— used externally as a rubefacient

— tonic to help grow your hair


In her book Fire Heart (2012), Maya Medicine Woman, Miss Beatrice Torres Waight, says:

Rosemary must be included in any talk about plant allies. She is cleansing, sacred, and protecting and an important ingredient in many of our Maya herbal baths and teas. Rosemary is a good one to put in the postpartum womb steam bath and to wash the lactating breasts to help bring the milk down. We use rosemary to bathe with, or to burn as incense after visiting a cemetery. Rosemary is burned right before the birth of a child and in the baby’s room where he is sleeping with his mother, as a way of blessing and protecting the child.