Rosemary’s unmistakable fragrance, culinary flavor, and medicinal properties have made it popular around the world. Since ancient times, Rosemary has been associated with memory, longevity, and friendship. It is a showy herbaceous shrub that flowers in blue, pink, or white; depending on the variety. It’s Latin name, Rosmarinus literally translated is “dew of the sea”. It’s a very appropriate name, considering Rosemary is native to the Mediterranean region.
In ancient Greece, and Rome, scholars wore sprigs of Rosemary in wreaths on their heads when studying. They believed the fragrance aided focus and memory.
During the 1,300’s Rosemary was introduced to England. In Medieval times, Rosemary was often placed under one’s pillow at night as it was believed to ward off evil spirits and bad dreams. The well to do hired perfumers who used Rosemary to scent their living spaces.
Rosemary was used in making the first distilled perfumes, known as “Hungary Water”. The exact maker, and date of invention are not known. Perhaps, it was a monk or an alchemist who made the first perfume, and gave it to the Queen Elisabeth of Poland. Others speculate that “Hungary Water” was not just a perfume, but also an effective remedy against illness, and first appeared outside of Hungary when it was received as a gift by Charles V of France.
Shakespeare made reference to Rosemary in his writings- “There’s rosemary and rue. These keep seeming and savor all the winter long. Grace and remembrance be to you.” (Winter’s Tale, Act 4, Scene 4)
In the 1700’s, Colonists brought Rosemary with them to America. It was frequently found in the kitchen gardens of most homes, and was used in cooking, preserving foods, and as medicine.
During the Victorian Era, Rosemary was frequently included in Bridal Bouquets, and represented Friendship, and Love.
Rosemary was used prolifically in French hospitals during World War II as an antiseptic. Dried Rosemary was burned in corridors to kill airborne illness, and bacteria.
Today, Rosemary is as popular as ever, for all the same reasons. Rosemary can be grown outside in Maine during the summer months; in flower pots, or right in the garden. It can be brought in for winter. The fragrance is refreshing, and rejuvenating. Rosemary is wonderful in winter. It is sanitizing, and aids in upper respiratory ailments often experienced during cold and flu season. Recent studies suggest Rosemary aids memory, and is effective for repelling Mosquitoes, as well. It can be used fresh, dried, or distilled.
Rosemary Products by Bear Mountain Botanicals are available here online, or at our Shop in Turner, Maine.
References, and resources.