Rosemary

Rosemarinus officinalis Rosemary flower

Rosemarinus officinalis Rosemary

Genus: Rosemarinus.

Species: officinalis.

Family: LAMIACEAE.

Common Name: Rosemary.

Etymology: Rosemarinus: Dew of the sea. officinalis: with herbal uses.

History: Rosemary was originally from the dry, rocky, generally coastal areas of the Mediterranean (Spain, Italy, Portugal, southern France, Greece, North Africa and in isolated pockets of Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt). It initially had a strong association with Greeks and Romans captivating them for its healing and other mystical powers. Greek scholars often wore a garland of the herb on their heads to help their memory during an exam and according to legend when the Greek goddess Aphrodite rose from the sea it was draped around her neck. It was introduced to England by the Roman army in the eighth century AD and to the new world by early immigrants. In French legend it is said that if a man didn’t like the smell of Rosemary he would be an inferior lover and Empress Josephine is said to have asked Napoleon Bonaparte to wash in it before entering her bed chamber (Napoleon also had a cologne made with rosemary). It is mentioned in 5 of Shakespeare’s plays, branches were found on the floors of medieval homes to combat disease during the black plague and apparently when the Virgin Mary placed her shawl over a white flowered rosemary bush (while resting) the flower turned blue. It is symbol of fertility, loyalty and love so brides often wear it at their weddings and it is often placed in the hands of the deceased at a funeral as a sign of remembrance. Sprigs of rosemary are worn on Anzac Day because of its particular significance to Australians as it was growing wild on the Gallipoli peninsula.

10 Uses of Rosemary: Rosemary contains substances that assist with stimulating the immune system, improve digestion, increase blood flow to the head and brain improving concentration (see those Greeks were onto something) and contains anti-inflammatory properties that reduce the severity of asthma attack and might help prevent and fight cancer. Dried and fresh rosemary both have trace elements of vitamins A and C.

  • Air freshener (incense or oil burner).
  • Bathing products.
  • Dye.
  • Hardy landscape plant.
  • Healer of skin irritations, arthritis and wounds.
  • Insect repellent.
  • On Roast vegetables and meats (almost an essential).
  • Rosemary water.
  • Rosemary tea.
  • Skewers (woody stems)

Basic description:  Woody, perennial shrub 60-150cm tall with dark green needle like leaves and lavender blue flowers.

Rosemary requirements & maintenance: pH 6-7.5 (acid to slightly alkaline). Full sun, dry well drained soil, prefers Mediterranean type climate so perfectly suited to southern Australia but will grow as far north as Brisbane, wet summers and high humidity can bring on powdery mildew. Does not require much much fertilizer but will benefit from lime.

Harvesting time: All year round.

Companion plants: 

  • Sage (Rosemary deters cabbage moth and bean bean beetle).
  • Cabbage  (Rosemary deters cabbage moth and bean bean beetle).
  • Beans (Rosemary deters cabbage moth and bean bean beetle).
  • Carrots (Rosemary deters cabbage moth and bean bean beetle).

Problem Solving without chemicals:

  • Aphid: Small black sap sucking insect 1mm-2mm usually clustering around new growth. Spray with soapy water, White oil, Neem oil or blast off with hose. Introduce predatory insects such as ladybirds, hover-flies and lacewings. Ants will discourage predators so need to be controlled as well.
  • Powdery Mildew: Fungus spores that look like powder on plant, spread by water in damp humid conditions. Bicarbinate of soda (2 teaspoons per litre) with one drop of vegetable oil and one drop of liquid soap. Makes leaf alkaline inhibiting the generation of fungal spores and is a good preventative. Potassium bicarbonate, similar to baking soda is a contact fungicide that kills the powdery mildew spores quickly.
  • Root rot: Phytophthora, pathogen in wet soils that rots roots causing yellowing and dieback of plant from the tips. It is spread in water through chemical stimulus as well as root-generated electric fields. Add compost to soil (stimulates competition also ammonia and volatile organic acids released by decomposing organic matter kill Phytophthora), improve drainage.
  • Scale: Small black, brown, pink or white insects that have either a hard or soft outer shell and attach themselves (usually) to underside of leaves (in veins) and along branches. Use White-oil at recommended dose on bottle, control ants that also help spread them.
  • Spider mites: Very small (less than 1mm) sap sucking mite. Adults are oval shaped, reddish brown or pale in colour. Visible as tight webs under leaves and along stems. They travel from plant to plant in their webs on the wind. Use Neem oil or introduce beneficial insects such as ladybugs and lacewing (its is worth noting that spraying with chemicals will kill these predatory insects making problem worse).
  • Spittlebugs: Sap sucking insect, dull coloured and about 10mm long (adults). The nymphs protect themselves from drying out by producing wet, frothy material around themselves. Also known as froghoppers they can jump vigorously from plant to plant. They can be simply just hosed off or an organic spray can be made using half a cup of hot peppers, 6 diced garlic cloves, 2 cups of water and 2 teaspoons liquid soap (without bleach).
  • Whitefly: Tiny (3mm) white (nymphs are black) sap sucking insects that look like moths. They congregate on the bottoms of leaves and produce honey dew that black sooty mold grows on.Spray with soapy water, White oil, Neem oil or blast off with hose. Whitefly traps are also useful.

Growing rosemary: There are numerous cultivars of Rosemary grown that include upright shrubs, small shrubs, and ground covers (the taller varieties tend to have the most aromatic oil though). There is also varieties that handle cold, wet conditions better, variegated forms, lemon scented, different coloured flowers and there is even a variety called ‘Remembrance’ or ‘Gallipoli’ which has been taken from the Gallipoli Peninsula.

Rosemarinus officinalis Rosemary

 

References:

  • http://theseedsite.co.uk.
  • http://wellnessmama.com.
  • What Garden Pest and Disease is That by Judy McMaugh.
  • Wikipedia.
  • www.adlunamlabs.com.
  • www.awm.gov.au
  • www.etymonline.com.
  • www.abc.net.au/gardening.
  • www.burkesbackyard.com.au.
  • www.gardeningknowhow.com.
  • www.growingagreenerworld.com.
  • www.herbsociety.org.
  • www.livestrong.com.
  • www.planetnatural.com.
  • www.sunset.com.
  • www.whfoods.com.
About Simon 93 Articles

Simon Schubert is a qualified Horticulturist who enjoys gardening and bush-walking. He has a keen interest in science, the natural world and particularly our environment. He would like to share his experiences and knowledge while learning better practices that will hopefully benefit the future for us all. Please join him on some fun adventures while learning about the life of plants and other interesting facts about our world.

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