Some useful information of a common herb Common name: Rosemary Proper name: Rosmarinus officinalis
Rosemary is an evergreen, shrubby herb that grows to a height of 1 – 2 m, with a unique aromatic odour. The erect stems are divided into numerous slender branches that have ash-coloured and scaly bark. The branches bear needle shaped leaves, slightly oily, dark-green above and downy-white below. The flowers are small and pale blue to deep blue.
The plant is very adaptable and is grown in almost all regions of South Africa. It’s even possible to cultivate it in the highlands of Lesotho: on the protected side in the garden. It is a hardy, temperate plant that can tolerate frost. It grows well at day temperatures of 20 – 25 degrees. It can be used as a ground cover and garden plant. It also can be planted as hedge. The plant is used as an insect repellent but also is a good source of nectar for bees.
Growing your own Rosemary
Cuttings from actively growing stem tips are a good way to propagate new plants. Cuttings of 10 to 15 cm length are taken. The bottom two thirds are stripped from leaves. The cutting is inserted in fertile earth, half to two thirds of the length. For the first year a flower pot on a warm place is the best. Water regularly.
Rosemary is known for its many uses all around the world over the centuries even as far back as 500 BC. Besides the culinary uses, where dried or fresh leaves are a popular seasoning for soups, stews etc. it is more often used as a medicinal plant. The major healing benefits of this wonderful herb are: It increases blood circulation, reduces fever, stimulates the liver and digestion, supports and strenghtens blood vessels, stimulates the memory, contains many Vitamins and is an anti inflammatory and helps to keep your memory clear. Here some applications for Rosemary:
One teaspoon of dried or fresh leaves to a single cup of boiled water, steep for 10 minutes and drink three cups a day. It helps when you suffer from indegestion or congestion. It is also helpful in increasing circulation and fighting rheumatism and infections. A strong tea is also excellent for relieving headaches and fever.
An antiseptic mouthwash and gargle for sore throats and gum problems. Hair rinse against dandruff and for encouraging hair growth. Add to bath water. This is excellent if you are suffering from poor circulation as it will help to stimulate blood flow, and also for soothing and calming skin irritations.
It has an antibacterial action and is useful in treating burns and wounds. It is also helpful in deterring fleas and in treating flea dermatitis. Essential oil should not be used internally and when used externally it should be diluted with another oil. A simple Rosemary oil can be made with the technique as described before (www.wolfgangfasser.ch/natural remedies). It is helpful for non inflammatory joint pains.
Harvesting and drying Rosemary leaves
Harvest anytime by snipping the end of the stems. This causes your plant to bush out. Never take more than 20% of the plant. But it is not necessary to dry Rosemary leaves as they are so much better when they are fresh. As it is an evergreen plant you can pick fresh leaves during the whole year.
Pregnant women should avoid large doses of Rosemary as it is a uterine stimulant. Also are large doses are irritating to the kidneys and stomach.