Rosmarinus officinalis

Accession Count: 216
Common Name: Rosemary
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Family Name: Lamiaceae
Botanical Name: Rosmarinus officinalis
Sub Species:

Rosemary is a broadleaf evergreen with irregular, spreading habit (though upright cultivars also exist). The form is generally oval in shape and the texture fine. The branches grow downward in long curving lines, giving the shrub a hairy look.  The one-inch long leaves are simple, flat, and needle-like with dark green-blue coloration. When crushed, the leaves are strongly aromatic. The plant blooms in spring and throughout summer, producing small tubular flowers ranging in color from purple to blue and white. While this shrub tolerates pruning better than many (it is even suitable as a topiary), pruning is not necessary as the natural form is preferred for low-maintenance gardeners. 

Compound: Ros off
Geographic Origin: Mediteranean
Ecozone Origin: Palearctic
Biome Origin:
Natural History: The natural history of the rosemary date back to Greek Scholars who take rosemary to sharpen their wits. The pungent herb is native to the Mediterranean basin and Portugal, now cultivated in England, France, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, South Africa, India, China, Australia, the United States, and along the Crimean peninsula in Transcaucasia (2). People have been using it throughout history as a way of remembering those who have passed on. It has been extremely popular in rituals such as funerals, weddings, and even getting rid of evil spirits (4).
Cultivation Notes:

Rosemary is fairly forgiving of cultural requirements. It can be grown in a container in well-drained soilless mix, or in the ground, in well drained slightly acid to slightly alkaline pH mineral soil. Water when the soil is dry just under the surface to reduce the risk of overwatering. Place in a location with full sun as it prefers a minimum of 6 hours of bright light. The plant tolerates a wide range of temperatures but is best suited for USDA climate zone 7 (-18 to -12 C). When grown within these conditions, it is resistant to most diseases and insect pests.


Rosemary has been used as medicine and in culinary practices by people for ages. The Egyptians would lay rosemary over tombstones as a sign for remembrance (4). The tonics made from the leaves was used to provide relief from headaches, head colds, nervous tension and indigestion. The culinary uses of rosemary is in the form of an herb to spice-up a bland dish, giving it a unique pungent taste, similar in taste and fragrance to pine (2). In modern times, rosemary is a highly desired shrub used as a landscape ornamental. The ‘Tuscan Blue’ cultivar is considered a great landscape performer in the Southwestern US as it thrives in a variety of conditions with little care. The plant also attracts beneficial insects (bees and butterflies), and can be used as a ground cover, or in a mixed perennial shrub border, or rock garden.

Height: 0 - 5 feet
Width: 6 - 10 feet
Growth Rate: Moderate Growing
Grow Season:
Flower Season: Spring
Color: Blue
Function: Patio
Spread: Non-spreading
Allergen: Non-allergenic
Invasive: Benign
Toxicity: Benign
Hardy: Hardy
Water Use: Low water Use

  1. Duffield, Mary Rose., and Warren D. Jones. Plants For Dry Climates - How To Select, Grow And Enjoy. Lane Publishing Company, 1992.
  3. Cohoon, Sharon. “The Right Rosemary for You.” Sunset , Sunset, 30 Oct. 2004, 
  4. “Rosemary, That's For Remembrance! .” Monterey Bay Spice Company ,

Rosmarinus officinalis