Salvia rosmarinus, commonly known as rosemary, is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple, or blue flowers, native to the Mediterranean region. Until 2017, it was known by the scientific name Rosmarinus officinalis, now a synonym.
Salvia rosmarinus is now considered one of many hundreds of species in the genus Salvia. Formerly it was placed in a much smaller genus, Rosmarinus, which contained only two to four species including R. officinalis, which is now considered a synonym of S. rosmarinus. The other species most often recognized is the closely related, Salvia jordanii (formerly Rosmarinus eriocalyx), of the Maghreb of Africa and Iberia.
Rosemary came to England at an unknown date; the Romans probably brought it when they invaded in the first century, but there are no viable records about rosemary arriving in Britain until the 8th century. This was credited to Charlemagne, who promoted herbs in general, and ordered rosemary to be grown in monastic gardens and farms.
Upon cultivation, the leaves, twigs, and flowering apices are extracted for use. Rosemary is used as a decorative plant in gardens where it may have pest control effects. The leaves are used to flavor various foods, such as stuffing and roast meats.
Rosemary leaves are used as a flavoring in foods, such as stuffing and roast lamb, pork, chicken, and turkey. Fresh or dried leaves are used in traditional Mediterranean cuisine. They have a bitter, astringent taste and a characteristic aroma which complements many cooked foods. Herbal tea can be made from the leaves. When roasted with meats or vegetables, the leaves impart a mustard-like aroma with an additional fragrance of charred wood that goes well with barbecued foods.
The plant has been used as a symbol for remembrance during war commemorations and funerals in Europe and Australia. Mourners would throw it into graves as a symbol of remembrance for the dead. In Australia, sprigs of rosemary are worn on ANZAC Day and sometimes Remembrance Day to signify remembrance; the herb grows wild on the Gallipoli Peninsula, where many Australians died during World War I.