I spoke with my sons this past weekend. Both of them are up to their eyeballs with study as they head into the last stretch of their college semester. I always try to send a fresh sprig of rosemary to them for their final exams. “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember” (Hamlet, Act IIII, v). They think it is silly but any small treasure that will help them is good enough for me.
I attribute my college degree to this wonderful plant. It sat next to me at my desk when I studied, a sprig went with me to all my exams and the essential oil kept me awake on those long all night study sessions. I would go so far as to say, rosemary should be included in all back to school packs and student classrooms! Its deep green color and beautiful blue flowers make it a wonderful addition to any room. It is surrounded in folklore which makes it even more enchanting;
- Its name is derived from the Latin meaning the “dew of the sea.”
- Rosemary was used to ward off evil spirits and prevent nightmares. The wood was used to make musical instruments.
- It was often woven into bridal wreaths at weddings and thrown onto coffins at funerals.
- An old English says, “where rosemary flourishes, women rules” could give a guest a hit at who wore the pants in the family.
- In France, rosemary was burnt along with juniper berries to clear the air in hospital rooms.
- During the Middle Ages it was worn around the neck to prevent the plague.
- It was meant to attract positive energies and was often hung over the crib of infants.
- Those who can smell rosemary frequently can retain their youth.
Besides all the wonderful folklore associated with Rosemary, it is a delicious culinary herb. It can be added to soups, stews and my favorite, mixed with olive oil and garlic as a coating for roasted potatoes.
Medicinally, rosemary is an astringent, diaphoretic and a stimulant (the student effect). According the Michael Tierra in his book, The Way of Herbs, it is useful for indigestion, colic, headaches, gas and fevers. It is high in calcium and good for the nervous system also. I especially like to use rosemary as part of a facial steam or hair rinse due to its astringent qualities. It really helps oily hair or complexions.
With so many uses, what is there not to love about rosemary?