Rosmarinus officinalis

Other Names Polar Plant, Compass-weed, Compass Plant, Rosmarinus coronarium, Incensier

General Information

An evergreen shrub native to the Mediterranean, rosemary has spruce-like leaves which are green on the top and whitish beneath. In the spring and summer the plant may put out blue flowers if the weather is humid enough. The flowers are labiate, as is typical of the mint family. A rosemary bush may reach up to five feet tall.



History and Folklore

The word Rosmarinus is from the Latin meaning "dew of the sea".

Christian folklore says that rosemary will grow for 33 years, until it reaches the height Christ was when he died, and then it will grow no more. Apparently, Rosemary's flowers picked up their blue color and acquired their fragrance when Mary spread her blue cloak over a rosemary bush to dry while they were on their way fleeing to Egypt.

Rosemary is also associated with Aphrodite and appears in many ancient images of Her.

Rosemary was used to ward off evil spirits and nightmares. The wood was used to make musical instruments.

Rosemary branches were often woven into wreaths worn by brides at weddings and decorated rosemary branches were presented as gifts to wedding guests. In Wales, it was distributed to funeral guests to throw into the hole as the coffin was lowered.

Rosemary was also given as a gift for New Year's Day, along with an orange, stuck with cloves and it was used with holly and mistletoe to decorate for Yule.

An old saying says "Where Rosemary flourishes, the Woman rules" and in England it was believed that rosemary could not grow in the garden of the home unless the mistress was the master.

In France, Rosemary was burnt, along with Juniper berries in sick rooms and hospitals to purify the air.

During the Middle Ages, it was hung around the neck to protect from the plague. Carrying a twig protected from the evil eye.

Rosemary is believed to attract faerie and good energies. Rosemary in twigs hung over cradles prevented faeries from stealing infants.

A man who is indifferent to the fragrance of rosemary is unable to give true love to a woman and those who smell rosemary frequently will retain their youth.

It was an embalming herb and sacred in Egypt. It was also a sacred herb to the Greeks.


Rosemary may be propagated by cuttings taken in early summer from a non-flowering branch.

Alternatively, rosemary can be cultivated from seed.

Choose a sheltered spot with full sun and well-drained soil. Rosemary tolerates clipping well and can be easily pruned into a pleasing shape. If there is ever a danger of freezing, the plant should be brought indoors until the danger has passed, but make sure it gets plenty of sun while indoors and take care not to over water. Sometimes a rosemary will appear to die after it has been brought indoors but will perk up when it is taken out again.

The leaves can be plucked, or the branches cut at any time. Rosemary likes regular pruning.

Rosemary is a good companion plant for cabbage, beans, sage and carrots. It helps to keep away moths, bean beetles and carrot flies.

Harvesting & Storage


2Use fresh or hang to dry in bunches still on the branch. Dried rosemary should be added early in the cooking so the flavors can infuse the dish.

Rosemary also makes good oils and vinegar.

Magical Attributes

Rosemary is male in nature and ruled by Leo, the element fire and the sun (or Moon, depending who you ask)

It's sacred to Hebe, Aphrodite and the Virgin Mary.

Rosemary can be used in spells for fidelity and remembrance as well as to dispel jealousy.

Rosemary is useful for ritual baths, and for making sacred herbal water for ritual cleansing, blessing and purification. Bathing in rosemary will enhance your memory and will make you more memorable to those you meet throughout the day.

Use rosemary in spells to enhance memory, including those spells for success in school. Also use for spells to retain youth and burn as incense when you are meditating or doing dream work to remember your past lives.

Place rosemary under your pillow to help you to remember your dreams and to keep away nightmares and other unwanted nighttime visitations.

Rosemary may be used in handfasting ceremonies in a variety of ways. It can be carried or worn by the bride and/or groom to symbolize love and loyalty and it may also be gifted to guests for the same purpose. If a bride and groom plant a rosemary plant together on their wedding day, they can watch it as it grows to divine the family's fortune.

If you haven't chosen a mate yet and have several to think about, name a pot for each one and plant rosemary in each pot. The one that grows the fastest and strongest is your best choice. If you don't have any options, make a poppet of yourself and stuff it with rosemary to attract a lover to you. You can also do this to attract healing energy.

Burn rosemary and juniper together to aid with healing, and to fumigate a home where there has been a long illness to drive out the negativity associated with disease. It can also be burned with sage to fumigate a ritual area or to drive negativity away from any space, object or person.

Wear Rosemary oil on those occasions that you want to make a lasting impression.

Household Use

Rosemary branches are wonderfully easy to work into wreathes when fresh and hold their fragrance and color well when dry.

Sprigs of Rosemary can be placed in your dresser drawers to protect your clothes from moths.

Healing Attributes

An infusion of rosemary makes an excellent hair rinse, gradually covering gray hair, and adding strength and shine to any color hair. It also helps reduce dandruff and stimulate hair growth. Rosemary oil rubbed into the ends of hair will also help reduce split ends.

Rosemary oil massaged into the scalp is believed to prevent baldness and stimulate hair growth.

Massaging the body with rosemary oil will increase circulation, relieve aches and pains and warm the limbs.

Used as a toner, rosemary will help bring blood to the surface of the skin and acts as an antiseptic and astringent.


Rosemary should not be taken internally in large doses. Rosemary should not be used medicinally by pregnant women, but it is okay for them to use it as a food seasoning.

Culinary Use

Rosemary is excellent with chicken, lamb and vegetables. It is especially good with potatoes. Dried rosemary should be added early in the cooking.

Learn more about using rosemary in the kitchen at Kitchen Witch Corner

Additional Notes

Scientific evidence suggests that rosemary does in fact stimulate the memory centers of the brain. So use a sprig of rosemary as a book-marker and wear rosemary oil when studying and on test day to help you remember what you need to know.

Give a dear friend a rosemary bush, or a rosemary wreath as a parting gift, as a symbolic promise that you will never forget him, or her.

As a symbol of fidelity, a rosemary bush, or crafts made of rosemary are suitable wedding gifts.

Keep some Rosemary oil on hand to dab behind your ears on those days that you wish to make a lasting impression, such as opening night, a job interview or a hot date. Wear rosemary oil whenever you want to be unforgettable!

Rosemary Leaf at Starwest Botanicals

See Also

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