Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

by Daphne Lambert

Rosemary takes its name from the latin ros maris which means dew of the sea, this reflects the plants love of the seashore.

Rosemary is an aromatic herb it is part of the mint family and native to the Mediterranean region. Rosemary has a long history as a culinary herb, it has a pungent flavour, peppery with a hint of sage and mint along with a zingy uplifting scent.

Because rosemary exhibits strong anti-microbial and anti-oxidant activity it is often used by food manufacturers as a preservative.

For centuries rosemary has been used medicinally often far beyond its native Mediterranean. Rosemary can be used to relieve muscle aches and pains, support the circulatory and nervous systems, reduce inflammation and soothe digestive issues.

Rosemary was once thought to be a cure for most 'evils in the body'. In the 14th century Queen Elizabeth of Hungary was reputedly cured of paralysis from a distilled drink made from rosemary water and alcohol this formula came to be known as the infamous Hungary Water.

Rosemary is known for its ability to improve memory Shakespeare's Ophelia petitions Hamlet with, "There's rosemary, that's for remembrance, pray you love, remember." Scholars of ancient Greece wore wreaths of rosemary above the brow to help their memories while taking exams.

During the Middle Ages rosemary was thought to dispel negativity, in addition sprigs were kept under the pillow at night to deter visits from evil spirits. It was also burned in the house to keep the black plague from entering. Today rosemary is often used as an incense to cleanse spaces.

Rosemary is used to treat a variety of symptoms and illnesses. As a potent anti-oxidant it can be used to prevent the damage caused by the oxidative stress that occurs during many diseases. The brain is particularly susceptible to the effects of oxidative stress, Studies have shown that the antioxidants in rosemary, such as the carnosic and rosmarinic acids, are highly beneficial in cases of Alzheimers. Rosemary may also promote memory function by increasing blood flow to the brain.

Rosemary is an evergreen so if you grow your own plant the fresh, spiky leaves will be available all year round for you to use in cooking or medicinally.

If you know someone who has a rosemary bush ask for a cutting as these will usually take easily. Rosemary can also be propagated by seed, layering or root division. Grow in a sheltered sunny position, on the whole rosemary is pretty tolerant so you can also grow in a pot on a sunny windowsill.

seeds can be bought from

plants from

These flatbreads are easy to make and a good way to use up old potatoes

Rosemary & potato flatbreads
250g floury old potatoes peeled and diced (weight after peeling)
500g spelt flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dried yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
a good twist black pepper

Cook the potatoes until tender, strain reserving the potato water and mash or sieve to a smooth puree.

Dissolve the yeast in a little of the cooled water

Place the spelt flour, salt, chopped rosemary, black pepper in a bowl. Add the yeast, mashed potato, olive oil and enough of the reserved potato water to make a soft dough. Turn onto a floured table and knead for 3 minutes. Place in an oiled bowl cover and leave in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size.

Divide dough into 8 and shape each into a ball. Dust the table and balls with flour, then roll each ball into a 6" circle.

Brush a fry pan lightly with oil, gently heat, then place a flat bread in the pan pressing down well, cook for 2 minutes, then flip over. Brush the surface of the flatbread with oil, flip again and brush the upper side with oil. Slide onto a plate and repeat with the remaining flatbreads.

Rosemary tincture is a good addition to your 'medicine chest'

Rosemary tincture
Fill a wide neck jar to within 1" of the top with 80% proof vodka ensuring the plant material is totally covered.

Securely fasten the jar top.

Place your jar in a cool, dry, dark place.

Shake the jar every couple of days. The herbs must stay submerged, so top up with more alcohol if necessary.

Leave the mixture to extract for 6 - 8 weeks.

To bottle, place a mesh strainer over a glass measuring jug and drape over muslin or cheesecloth. Pour the tincture into the cloth. To extract all of the tincture, gather up the cloth and squeeze the remaining liquid from the herbs.

Pour the tincture through a funnel into a dropper bottle.

Securely fasten the lid, label and store in a cool, dry, dark place

How you use the tincture will be dependent on your individual body chemistry. As a rule of thumb place a few drops directly under your tongue making sure the dropper does not touch your mouth, or dilute a few drops in a glass of water.

Can help improve concentration, digestion, and general brain health

Rosemary should be avoided during pregnancy