Plant of the Week ~ Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary)

Botanical print depicting the details of Rosmarinus officinalis
Botanical print depicting the details of Rosmarinus officinalis

This week we take a look at a plant that should be familiar to many, Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary). Rosemary is an evergreen shrub which can grow to 1.5 metres in height and spread and flowers from spring to early autumn with seeds ripening from late summer to autumn. Let’s take a closer look at this wonderful plant.

Cultivation & Care

Only when looking close up can you truly appreciate the intricate beauty of rosemary flowers
Only when looking close up can you truly appreciate the intricate beauty of rosemary flowers

Rosemary favours a sunny position in soil which is light and slightly alkaline. It will not tolerate heavy clay and excessively wet winter conditions will likely kill it off.  It will tolerate partial shade, but full sun is preferable for a healthy and productive plant.

Rosemary is fairly undemanding in care requirements, however if you do not want it to grow too large you will want to prune it back after flowering. It is very resilient to pruning and can grow back from old wood.

Edible Uses

Rosemary leaves are great used both fresh and dried in the kitchen
Rosemary leaves are great used both fresh and dried in the kitchen

Compassionate Roots can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants.  Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally and when in doubt about eating a plant you have not eaten before.

Various parts of rosemary can be used in the kitchen. Below are some of the main parts used and their uses.

  • Leaves ~ These can be eaten raw or cooked and are commonly used in sauces and to enhance such dishes as risotto, roasted vegetables, soups and stews. They can also be used steeped in boiled water to make a tea.
  • Flowers ~ These have a more delicate flavour compared to the leaves and can be used as a garnish in salads or to flavour stews and soups.

Other Uses

Though rosemary is well known for it’s edible uses, there are many other boons that it offers.

  • Drought tolerant ~ Once established rosemary is very tolerant of dry periods, just be sure not to let it dry out before a healthy root system has been established in the area it is growing.
  • Maritime tolerant ~ Rosemary copes well with the exposure inherent in coastal regions.
  • Medicinal ~ Antiseptic, antispasmodic, appetizer, aromatherapy, aromatic, astringent, cardiac, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, nervine, ophthalmic, stimulant, stomachic, & tonic.
  • Dye plant ~ yellow-green dye can be extracted from the leaves and flowers.
  • Hedge plant ~ makes a great evergreen hedge, with additional interest provided by its long flowering season and aromatic foliage.
  • Companion plant ~ Grows well with most plants, including beans, cabbages and carrots.

Wildlife Gardening

Rosemary flowers are a rich source of pollen for our valuable pollinators
Rosemary flowers are a rich source of pollen for our valuable pollinators
  • Insect nectar and pollen ~ With it’s long flowering season and the fact it starts flowering early in spring it is a great food source for bees emerging from overwintering and also throughout the rest of the year.
  • Hummingbird nectar plant ~ Though hummingbirds don’t live in the UK, I encourage any readers in America to grow this plant for hummingbirds to feed from.
  • Beneficial insects like lacewings favour this plant for laying eggs on.

Compassionate Roots can help you create a vibrant wildlife garden for you and your family to enjoy all year round. Contact us for more information.

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