Rosmarinus officinalis L.

rosemary, old man, rose of the sea
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Rosmarinus officinalis
Elena Torres & Santiago Moreno
Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

Rosmarinus officinalis: Appearance all year round of several specimens growing very close together and pruned to form a hedge

Appearance all year round of several specimens growing very close together and pruned to form a hedgeBranch with linear leaves dark green above and white below, with revolute edgesBranch with flowers arranged in very contracted cymes (verticillasters)In the centre, 2 open flowers with a bilabiate corolla, 2 stamens and a long curved style; the stigma is not receptive yetFruit-bearing calyxes; a part has been removed from the one on the bottom left, exposing 3 nutlets (a fourth nutlet is aborted)

Rosmarinus: Ancient Latin name for rosemary, perhaps derived from "ros" = dew and "marinus, -a, -um" = of the sea, because the plant grows near the sea

officinalis, -e: of or belonging to an "officina" (storeroom where medicines were kept), because of its medicinal properties


Habit: Evergreen ramose shrub 0.5-2 m tall with hairy, 4-angled young branches.

Leaves: opposite, persistent, simple, subsessile, 2-4 cm long x 1-3 mm wide, linear, with entire and revolute margins, almost terete, discolorous, green adaxially and white abaxially because of the presence of dense short hairs.

Flowers: hermaphrodite, zygomorphic, hypogynous, arranged in short axillary racemes; calyx pentamerous, gamosepalous, campanulate, bilabiate; corolla gamopetalous, 1-1.5 cm long, bilabiate; upper lip notched; lower lip 3-lobed, with the central lobe larger and cucullate, white, pink or bluish; stamens 2, exserted; gynoecium syncarpous, 2-carpellate, with a superior ovary and a gynobasic style.

Fruit: formed by 4 nutlets with one seed each, enclosed in the calyx tube.


It flowers practically all year round.

Geographic origin

Native to the Mediterranean region, including most of the Iberian Peninsula.


It is often cultivated as an ornamental, particularly to form hedges in gardens. It is also planted in median strips of motorways and used to reforest dry slopes because it is hardy and protects the soil. It is very appreciated by beekeepers as a honey plant. It aromatic leaves are used to complement foods. They also have medicinal properties and are used, along with inflorescences, to treat dyspepsia and related symptoms (fullness in the stomach and abdominal spasm).

It is easily propagated from seeds or semi-ripe cuttings.

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