Salvia rosmarinus, commonly known as rosemary, is a shrub with aromatic, evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple, or blue flowers, native to the Mediterranean region. It is a member of the sage family Lamiaceae, which includes many other medicinal and culinary herbs.
The name "rosemary" comes from the Latin ros marinus ("dew of the sea"). Rosemary has a fibrous root system.
Rosemary is an aromatic evergreen shrub with leaves similar to hemlock needles. It is native to the Mediterranean and Asia, but is quite hardy in cool climates. The seeds start out with a low germination rate and relatively slow growth, but the plant can live up to 30 years.
During cultivation, the leaves, twigs and flowering tops are extracted for use. Rosemary is used as an ornamental plant in gardens. The leaves are used to flavor various foods such as stuffing and roasts.
Since it is attractive and drought-resistant, rosemary is used as an ornamental plant in gardens and for landscaping, especially in areas with a Mediterranean climate. It is considered easy to grow and resistant to pests. Rosemary can grow quite large and retain attractiveness for many years, can be pruned into formal shapes and low hedges, and has been used for topiary. It is easily grown in pots.
Rosemary grows in well-drained clay soil in an open, sunny position. It will not tolerate waterlogging and some varieties are sensitive to frost. Grows best in neutral to alkaline conditions (pH 7–7.8) with average fertility.
Rosemary leaves are used as a flavoring in foods. The fresh or dried leaves are used in traditional Mediterranean cuisine. They have a bitter, astringent taste and a characteristic aroma that complements many cooked foods. Herbal tea can be made from the leaves. When roasted with meats or vegetables, the leaves impart a mustard-like flavor with an added charred wood aroma that pairs well with barbecue foods.
In amounts commonly used to flavor foods, such as one teaspoon (1 gram), rosemary provides no nutritional value. Rosemary extract has been shown to improve shelf life and heat stability of rancid-prone omega-3 rich oils. Rosemary is also an effective antimicrobial herb.
Rosemary oil is used for body perfumes or to give off an aroma in a room. It is also burned as incense, and used in shampoos and cleaning products.
Rosemary contains a number of phytochemicals including rosmarinic acid, camphor, caffeic acid, ursolic acid, betulinic acid, carnosic acid and carnosol. Rosemary essential oil contains 10–20% camphor.
The plant or its oil has been used in folk medicine in the belief that it may have medicinal effects.
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