Plant: Rosemary
Botanical Name: Rosmarinus Officinalis

Synonyms, Country Names: Rosmarin, Guardrobe, Libanotis (Greek), Dew of the Sea, The Christmas Herb, Labiatae, Polar Plant, Compass-Weed, Compass Plant, Rosmarinus Coronarium, Incensier (Old French), and Herb of Remembrance.

Symbolic: Rosemary is symbolic of Remembrance and Protection from Illness. It is an herb scared to friendship and is considered a strong protective amulet and safeguard.

Quotations: "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray
you, love, remember: and there is pansies, that's
for thoughts."

Ophelia, Hamlet, Act IV, v, line 175
"Doth not rosemary and Romeo begin both with a letter?"

Nurse, Romeo and Juliet, Act II, iv, line 206

Cultivation: Rosemary is a perennial and is a native of the Mediterranean area. It succeeds best in a light, sandy, rather dry soil and in a sunny, sheltered location. Rosemary is propagated by seeds, cuttings, layers, and division of roots. The evergreen, narrow, linear leaves of this shrubby herb are about an inch long, dark green above and mealy grey beneath. Rosemary usually flowers twice a year (spring and autumn) and the flowers are small and pale blue. Every part of the plant is strongly aromatic, including the seeds. It grows from 2 to 6 feet in height and width.

The Useful Plant: Oil of Rosemary can be used as a tonic, astringent, or stimulant to cure many cases of headaches. It is also used externally as a hair-lotion and is thought to prevent hair loss. Rosemary tea is good for headaches, colic, colds, and nervous diseases. Rosemary leaves are excellent with meats, especially lamb and chicken. The leaves can also be used to compliment bland vegetables, soups, and breads and are used in sachets and potpourris. In addition, Rosemary is a handsome potted plant for the garden.

Folklore: Rosemary has a reputation for strengthening one's memory. It is an emblem of fidelity for lovers and is sacred to remembrance and friendship. At weddings, Rosemary, after first being dipped into scented water, is entwined in the wreath worn by the bride and is used in bridal bouquets. At funerals, Rosemary is used as a symbol of remembrance and enduring affection. It is carried in the hand and thrown into the grave. When Rosemary is placed under a pillow at night, it is thought to prevent nightmares. In earlier times, Rosemary represented the dominant influence of the house mistress. "Where Rosemary flourished, the woman ruled." In pagan, wican, and native circles, Rosemary is used for protection and banishment. It prevents nightmares and does away with evil spirits. It is hung on porches and doors to keep out thieves and grown to attract elves. It was said that Queen Elizabeth of Hungry recovered her health and was rejuvenated by Rosemary. Sicilians believed that young fairies, taking the form of snakes, lie amongst the branches of the Rosemary plant. Finally, one old legend compares the growth of the Rosemary plant with the height of Jesus Christ and declares that after 33 years, it increases in breath, but never in height.

Personal: The Rosemary plant has quickly become a favorite herb in my summer garden and as a wonderful houseplant in the winter. While being relatively easy to grow outside in the summer, I've found that it takes a lot of attention to keep it alive and growing during the cold months. It took me three tries before I successfully nurtured a Rosemary plant thought the winter. A sunny southern window and plenty of water seem to be essential for the plant to prosper indoors during our long, cold Colorado winters. Besides its physical beauty and wonderful aroma, I enjoy the Rosemary plant's leaves as a seasoning in soups, chicken dishes, and rustic bread.

Ken Gamauf
Shakespeare Garden Association
May 6, 1997