Rosemary - herb of fidelity
Rosmarinus officinalis a true native of the Mediterranean area. There are 2 species, Rosmarinus officinalis , the most widespread and most variable, ranging from white, through pink and purple to blue flowers. The second species is the prostrate form – R. eriocalyx. All are evergreen and hardy perennials, which prefer a well drained sunny position. Rosemary dislikes prolonged wet winters and can suffer scorching in frosts. Only ever cut back Rosemary in the spring, after the risk of frost has disappeared – not much of a problem here in Andalucía, except at altitude. Rosemary is a great plant to grow in containers, do not over water and only feed after flowering.
The Latin name for Rosemary means Dew of the Sea, from its habit of growing close to the sea and the dew like appearance of the flowers. It is an herb steeped in mystery and magic and is a symbol of friendship, loyalty and remembrance. In Elizabethan times, a sprig of rosemary was worn as a sign of fidelity at weddings. A story from Spain relates that when the Holy family fled Egypt; the Virgin Mary had to hide from soldiers, so she spread her cloak over a rosemary bush and hid behind it. When the soldiers had passed the flowers of the rosemary had changed from white to blue in her honour.
One of the most useful culinary herbs combining well with meat, especially lamb, as well as sausages, soups and stuffing’s. Fresh sprigs can be steeped in olive oil, vinegar and wine to add flavour to sauces and dressings. Rosemary tea makes a good mouthwash against bad breath. Its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties make it an effective foot soak. As with all herbs large doses over a prolonged period may cause problems.