Rosemary





(Rosemarinus officinalis, Linn.)--As its generic name

implies, rosemary is a native of sea-coasts, "rose" coming from Ros,

dew, and "Mary" from marinus, ocean. It is one of the many Labiatae

found wild in limy situations along the Mediterranean coast. In ancient

times many and varied virtues were ascribed to the plant, hence its

"officinalis" or medical name, perhaps also the belief that "where

rosemary flourishes, the lady rules!" Pliny, Dioscorides and Galin all

write about it. It was cultivated by the Spaniards in the 13th century,

and from the 15th to the 18th century was popular as a condiment with

salt meats, but has since declined in popularity, until now it is used

for seasoning almost exclusively in Italian, French, Spanish and German

cookery.



Description.--The plant is a half-hardy evergreen, 2 feet or more

tall. The erect, branching, woody stems bear a profusion of little

obtuse, linear leaves, green above and hoary white beneath. On their

upper parts they bear pale blue, axillary flowers in leafy clusters. The

light-brown seeds, white where they were attached to the plant, will

germinate even when four years old. All parts of the plant are

fragrant--"the humble rosemary whose sweets so thanklessly are shed to

scent the desert" (Thomas Moore). One of the pleasing superstitions

connected with this plant is that it strengthens the memory. Thus it has

become the emblem of remembrance and fidelity. Hence the origin of the

old custom of wearing it at weddings in many parts of Europe.



"There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray, love, remember:

And there is pansies, that's for thoughts."



--Hamlet, Act iv, Scene 5.



Cultivation.--Rosemary is easily propagated by means of cuttings, root

division and layers in early spring, but is most frequently multiplied

by seed. It does best in rather poor, light soil, especially if limy.

The seed is either sown in drills 18 to 24 inches apart or in checks 2

feet asunder each way, half a dozen seeds being dropped in each "hill."

Sometimes the seedbed method is employed, the seed being sown either

under glass or in the open ground and the seedlings transplanted.

Cultivation consists in keeping the soil loose and open and free from

weeds. No special directions are necessary as to curing. In frostless

sections, and even where protected by buildings, fences, etc., in

moderate climates, the plants will continue to thrive for years.



Uses.--The tender leaves and stems and the flowers are used for

flavoring stews, fish and meat sauces, but are not widely popular in

America. Our foreign-born population, however, uses it somewhat. In

France large quantities, both cultivated and wild, are used for

distilling the oil of rosemary, a colorless or yellowish liquid

suggesting camphor, but even more pleasant. This oil is extensively used

in perfuming soaps, but more especially in the manufacture of eau de

cologne, Hungary water and other perfumes.





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