Gardening Wiki
Rosemary in flower
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Unranked: Angiosperms
Unranked: Eudicots
Unranked: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Rosmarinus
Species: R. officinalis
Binomial name
Rosmarinus officinalis

Rosemary is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves. It is native to the Mediterranean region. It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, which also includes many other herbs.


Named by the 18th century naturalist and founding taxonomist Carolus Linnaeus, it has not undergone much taxonomical change since.


Forms range from upright to trailing; the upright forms can reach 1.5 m tall, rarely 2m.

The leaves are evergreen, 2-4 cm long and 2–5 mm broad, green above, and white below with dense short woolly hair.

Flowering, very common in a mature and healthy specimens, occurs in summer in the north, but the plants can be everblooming in warm-winter climates; flower colors are variable, being white, pink, purple, or blue.[2]


Coming from the Latin words ros marinus, rosemary translates into dew of the sea. It was said to be draped around Aphrodite when she rose from the sea and was originally born of Ouranos's semen. Today, the goddess Aphrodite is associated with rosemary, as is the Virgin Mary, who was supposed to have spread her cloak over a white-blossomed rosemary bush when she was resting; according to legend, the flowers turned blue, the color most associated with Mary.


Since it is attractive and tolerates some degree of drought, it is also used in landscaping, especially in areas having a Mediterranean climate. It is considered easy to grow for beginner gardeners, and is pest-resistant.

Rosemary grows on friable loam soil with good drainage in an open sunny position, it will not withstand water logging and some varieties may be susceptible to frost. It grows best in neutral to alkaline conditions pH (pH 7–7.8) with average fertility.

Rosemary is easily pruned into shapes and has been used for topiary. When grown in pots, it is best kept trimmed to stop it getting straggly and unsightly, though when grown in a garden, rosemary can grow quite large and still be attractive. It can be propagated from an existing plant by clipping a shoot Template:Convert long, stripping a few leaves from the bottom, and planting it directly into soil.

Numerous cultivars have been selected for garden use. The following are frequently sold:

  • Albus – white flowers
  • Arp – leaves light green, lemon-scented
  • Aureus – leaves speckled yellow
  • Benenden Blue – leaves narrow, dark green
  • Blue Boy – dwarf, small leaves
  • Golden Rain – leaves green, with yellow streaks
  • Gold Dust -dark green leaves, with golden streaks but stronger than Golden Rain
  • Irene – lax, trailing
  • Lockwood de Forest – procumbent selection from Tuscan Blue
  • Ken Taylor – shrubby
  • Majorica Pink – pink flowers
  • Miss Jessop's Upright – tall, erect
  • Pinkie – pink flowers
  • Prostratus
  • Pyramidalis (a.k.a. Erectus) – pale blue flowers
  • Roseus – pink flowers
  • Salem – pale blue flowers, cold hardy similar to Arp
  • Severn Sea – spreading, low-growing, with arching branches; flowers deep violet
  • Tuscan Blue – upright
  • Wilma's Gold – yellow leaves


  1. Template:Cite web