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Rosmarinus officinalis - L.

Common Name Rosemary
Family Lamiaceae or Labiatae
USDA hardiness 6-11
Known Hazards Products containing rosemary oil may cause erythema (redness) of the skin. Caution needed if allergies. Reportedly used as an abortifacient in large quantities but can lead to deep coma, spasm and vomiting and even death [301].
Habitats Dry scrub and rocky places, especially near the sea[50, 132].
Range S. Europe to W. Asia.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Rosmarinus officinalis Rosemary

Rosmarinus officinalis Rosemary


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Bloom Color: Blue. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Late summer, Late spring, Late winter, Mid summer, Mid spring. Form: Rounded.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Rosmarinus officinalis is an evergreen Shrub growing to 1.5 m (5ft) by 1.5 m (5ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 6 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf all year, in flower from March to October, and the seeds ripen from August to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Rosmarinus officinalis subsp. laxiflorus (Noë ex Lange) Nyman

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Ground Cover; Hedge; Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves  Shoots
Edible Uses: Condiment  Tea

Young shoots, leaves and flowers - raw or cooked. The leaves have a very strong flavour that is bitter and somewhat resinous[238], the flowers are somewhat milder. They are used in small quantities as a flavouring in soups and stews, with vegetables such as peas and spinach, and with sweet dishes such as biscuits cakes, jams and jellies[1, 2, 9, 15, 27, 52, 244]. They can be used fresh or dried[21].The leaves have a tough texture and so should either be used very finely chopped, or in sprigs that can be removed after cooking[238]. A fragrant tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves[21, 183]. It is said to be especially nice when mixed with tansy[183].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future 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.
Antiseptic  Antispasmodic  Appetizer  Aromatherapy  Aromatic  Astringent  Cardiac  Carminative  
Cholagogue  Diaphoretic  Emmenagogue  Nervine  Ophthalmic  Stimulant  Stomachic  

Rosemary is commonly grown in the herb garden as a domestic remedy, used especially as a tonic and pick-me-up when feeling depressed, mentally tired, nervous etc[238]. Research has shown that the plant is rich in volatile oils, flavanoids and phenolic acids, which are strongly antiseptic and anti-inflammatory[238]. Rosmarinic acid has potential in the treatment of toxic shock syndrome, whilst the flavonoid diosmin is reputedly more effective than rutin in reducing capillary fragility[238]. Rosmarol, an extract from the leaves, has shown remarkably high antioxidant activity[218]. The whole plant is antiseptic, antispasmodic, aromatic, astringent, cardiac, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, nervine, stimulant, stomachic and tonic[4, 21, 89, 165, 218]. An infusion of the flowering stems made in a closed container to prevent the steam from escaping is effective in treating headaches, colic, colds and nervous diseases[4]. A distilled water from the flowers is used as an eyewash[7]. The leaves can be harvested in the spring or summer and used fresh, they can also be dried for later use[7]. This remedy should not be prescribed for pregnant women since in excess it can cause an abortion[238]. An essential oil distilled from the stems and leaves is often used medicinally, that distilled from the flowering tops is superior but not often available[4]. The oil is applied externally as a rubefacient, added to liniments, rubbed into the temples to treat headaches and used internally as a stomachic and nervine[4]. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is 'Stimulant'[210]. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Rosmarinus officinalis Rosemary for rheumatism, dyspeptic complaints, loss of appetite, blood pressure problems (see [302] for critics of commission E).

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Dye  Essential  Hair  Hedge  Hedge  Incense  Repellent

Landscape Uses: Border, Container, Ground cover, Seashore. The growing plant is said to repel insects from neighbouring plants[14, 18, 89, 201]. Branches or sachets of the leaves are often placed in clothes cupboards to keep moths away[148]. An infusion of the dried plant (both leaves and flowers) is used in shampoos[4, 14, 201]. When combined with borax and used cold, it is one of the best hair washes known and is effective against dandruff[4]. An essential oil is obtained from the leaves and flowering stems[11, 57, 89, 171]. One kilo of oil is obtained from 200 kilos of flowering stems[4]. The oil is used in perfumery, soaps, medicinally etc[11, 57, 89, 171]. It is often added to hair lotions and is said to prevent premature baldness[4]. The leaves are burnt as an incense, fumigant and disinfectant[61, 244]. The cultivar 'Prostratus' can be used as a ground cover in a sunny position[188]. This cultivar is the least hardy form of the species[188]. The plant can be grown as a hedge, it is fairly resistant to maritime exposure[49, 75], though when this is coupled with very cold weather the plants can suffer severely[11]. Any trimming is best carried out after the plant has flowered[188]. The cultivar 'Miss Jessopp's Upright' is particularly suitable for hedging[188]. 'Fastigiatus' is also very suitable[K]. A yellow-green dye is obtained from the leaves and flowers[168]. Rosmarinus officinalis 'Prostratus' Creeping rosemary is a perennial groundcover for zone 2 firebreaks. The US government has created a system of firebreaks for areas prone to wildfires, theses are separated into concentric zones surrounding buildings. Zone 2 is the second away from the house. These low-level groundcovers provide little fuel.

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Food Forest  Ground cover  Hedge  Hedge  Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Prefers a hot sunny position and a slightly alkaline light dry soil[11, 14, 27, 37]. Dislikes very heavy soils[11]. Intolerant of excessive winter wet[200]. Likes a stony calcareous soil[200]. Plants are smaller when grown on chalky soils, but are more fragrant[4]. Fairly tolerant of maritime exposure[49, 75] and very tolerant of salt spray[244]. Succeeds in a hot dry position[200]. Hardy to between -10 and -15°c[184], but plants can be damaged or killed in severe winters, old plants are the most susceptible[11]. Rosemary is a polymorphic species that is commonly grown in the ornamental and herb gardens, there are many named varieties[183, 238]. Traditionally, the plant is a symbol of friendship and fidelity and a wreath of it would be worn by a bride to denote love and loyalty[244]. It was also carried at religious ceremonies and funerals in the belief that its pungent scent would ward of disease and evil spirits[244]. The whole plant is highly aromatic[245]. The cultivar 'Corsican Blue' is more aromatic than the type[245]. Very tolerant of pruning, plants can regenerate from old wood[202]. A good bee plant, producing pollen early in the year[7, 24, 89]. A good companion for most plants, including cabbages, beans, carrots and sage[14, 18, 54, 201]. Grows badly with potatoes[201]. Special Features: Edible, Fragrant foliage, Not North American native, Attracts butterflies, Suitable for dried flowers, Fragrant flowers. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 12 through 8. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is multistemmed with multiple stems from the crown [1-2]. An evergreen. In garden design, as well as the above-ground architecture of a plant, root structure considerations help in choosing plants that work together for their optimal soil requirements including nutrients and water. The root pattern is branching: a heart root, dividing from the crown into several primary roots going down and out [2-1]. Heat Zone 12-8.

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow spring in a cold frame or greenhouse. Germination can be slow. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow on in a greenhouse or cold frame for their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 10 - 18 cm with a heel, July/August in a frame or shady border[4]. Very easy, they usually root within 3 weeks[K]. It is best to give the plants some protection for their first winter and then plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer. Cuttings of young shoots in spring in a frame[15]. They usually root well within 3 weeks, prick them out into individual pots and plant them out during the summer. Layering in summer[1].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

TEMPERATE ASIA: Turkey,Cyprus. EUROPE: Former Yugoslavia, Greece, Italy (incl. Sardinia, Sicily), Spain (incl. Baleares), France (incl. Corsica), Portugal, AFRICA: Spain, Canarias, Portugal, Madeira Islands, Algeria (north), Libya (north), Morocco, Tunisia.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

None Known

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

david nicholls   Thu Oct 4 2007

According to Deni Bown (the same Encyclopedia quoted here)excess of R. causes abortion and convulsions, I couldn't see this mentioned anywhere, it may be there. A few days ago I saw someone on the food channel add it to fruit juice, seems like a good idea, it seems fine added to water on its own. Have a good day, keep up the good work pff..

   Sun Mar 16 2008


Anna Poh   Mon Nov 3 2008

May i the supporting article or paper for the medicinal claim as stated below: strongly antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. thanks

dina gad   Sun Jan 18 2009

this page is very important and interesting please, I want to know how i can germinate seeds of Rosmarinus officinalis

david   Sun Jan 18 2009

Dina, see under propagation above

Sarah   Thu Sep 3 2009

What is the diameter of growth on prostatus?

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