The plant's botanical name used to be called Rosmarinus officinalis but it was decided by the RHS in 2019, the plant is now to be called Salvia rosmarinus, following research that shows it's a salvia (in the sage family).
Rosemary is the herb of remembrance. The scent of the needle-like leaves seems somewhere between the tang of a sea breeze and the spicy clean smell of pine woods There are two distinctly different varieties of rosemary: upright or bush-like as well as creeping and trailing. Rosemary was used by the Romans and Greeks as an aromatic herb in cooking and medicinally for boosting memory and reducing inflammation.
The leaves are best used sparingly in cooking due to the pungent flavour. As with most herbs, rosemary should be harvested for drying just before the plant flowers and when the flavourful oils are at their peak.
Lay sprigs on screening in a warm, airy place out of direct sunlight. When the leaves are brittle, strip from stems, crumble roughly, and store in tightly capped jars. The flavour matches well with many foods. In addition to seasoning meat, poultry and fish, this pungent-tasting herb adds appeal to soups. herbal salt, mulled wine and bread. Barbeque chefs use a branch of rosemary as a brush for distributing seasoned oil onto bbq meats and veggies then throw them on top afterwards. Pro tip - don't throw the stripped branches away - once dried they can serve as skewers for kebabs!
Rosemary is often seen as a Christmas herb along with its association with Mary, the mother of Jesus. Tradition has it that the shrub is fragrant because Mary laid the garments of the Christ Child on its branches. The night he was born, legend has it, the trees suddenly bore fruit and flowers blossomed out of season. Rosemary was used during the middle ages by housewives to spread on the floor at Christmas. As people walked on it, a pleasant aroma arose.