Rosmarinus L.


Peter Lumley

Latin ros marinus — dew of the sea.

Aromatic, evergreen, erect or spreading shrubs or subshrubs. Leaves leathery, simple, linear, entire, margins rolled under. Axillary buds developing rapidly to a 2- or 4-leaved stage with little internode development. Flower clusters of 10-20 flowers in short axillary (rarely terminal) racemes. Flowers stalked; bracts 1-2 mm long, green, ovate, acuminate. Calyx bell-shaped, 2-lipped, upper lip shortly 2-lobed; flower tube 2-lipped, upper lip erect, 2-lobed, lower lip deeply 3-lobed, blue, grey or pink. Stamens 2. Fruit of 4 nutlets.

Rosmarinus officinalis is the only species commonly cultivated.

Easily grown from seed but particularly easy to propagate from cuttings; semi-prostrate forms layer naturally.

Fragrant shrubs with leathery, narrow, opposite leaves, dark or olive green above, the leaf margins rolled under, partly concealing the densely felty white or grey undersurface of the leaf. Development of all the axillary buds to the 2- or 4-leaf stage, giving the shoot a characteristic leafy appearance. Stamens 2 only.

One species is used as a culinary and medicinal herb; the oil is used in shampoos and perfumes.

Larkman Nurseries, Lilydale, Vic.

3 species from the Mediterranean, 1 widespread.

Species: Turrill (1920). Cultivars: Browse (1986), Treseder (1946). Oils: Tucker & Maciarello (1986)

Source: Lumley, P. (2002). Rosmarinus. In: Spencer, R.. Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 4. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 3. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.

Hero image
kingdom Plantae
phylum   Tracheophyta
class    Magnoliopsida
superorder     Asteranae
order      Lamiales
family       Lamiaceae
Higher taxa
Subordinate taxa
species         Rosmarinus officinalis L.