What we grow - Biodiversity



Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus) is an aromatic perennial plant belonging to the Lamiaceae family. The etymology of the name derives from the Latin “rosmarinus” or “ros marinus” (Sea dew), as it is spontaneous in the Mediterranean area where it grows in the coastal areas along all the Tyrrhenian coasts, the Ionian coasts, on the Adriatic coasts up to Molise, including the islands and the western shores of Lake Garda. Also known in Italy as “ramerino”, it seems that it may come, according to other theses, from the Greek “rops” (Shrub) and “myrinos” (Odorous). The Egyptians considered it a magical element, whose twigs were able to procure immortality because, even when cut, they remained fresh over time. The Romans made rosemary the symbol of death and love:

  • In honor of the gods, the twigs were burned to purify the air during sacrifices, and Horace advised: “If you want to earn the esteem of the dead, bring them wreaths of rosemary and myrtle”.
  • The plant, dedicated to Venus, was considered an aphrodisiac, which, if taken in large doses, could cause abortion.

Its properties found application both in “rosemary wine” and in the so-called “rosemary bath”, the latter indicated for stimulating blood circulation and making the skin very sensitive to the touch. In the seventeenth century, a particular preparation called “Water of the Queen of Hungary” became very fashionable at the French court, made by distilling two parts of rosemary flowers and three parts of alcohol. From the nineteenth century, little by little, it was replaced by another rosemary preparation, called “Eau de Cologne”.


The plant has a shrubby and evergreen bearing, reaching heights of 50-300 centimeters, with deep, fibrous and resistant roots, with light brown woody stems, with young hairy gray-green branches with a quadrangular section. The persistent and leathery leaves are 2-3 centimeters long and 1-3 millimeters wide, sessile, opposite, linear-lanceolate, densely packed on the twigs, glossy dark green on the upper page and whitish on the lower one due to the presence of white down, with slightly revolute margins and rich in oil glands. The hermaphrodite flowers are sessile and small, gathered in short bunch, with flowering from March to October, while in the more sheltered positions they are intermittently all year round. Each flower has a lilac-indigo, blue-violet or, more rarely, white or pale blue corolla, with two stamens with filaments equipped with a small tooth at the base and inserted in correspondence with the jaw of the corolla. Pollination occurs through the domestic bee, which collects pollen and abundant nectar, from which excellent honey is obtained. The fruits are oblong and smooth, brownish in color


The twigs and leaves harvested from May to July and dried in the shade have aromatic properties, stimulating the appetite and digestive functions, stomachic, carminative, useful in atonic dyspepsia and gastralgia, tonic and stimulating for the nervous system, the liver and the gallbladder. It possesses analgesic qualities and therefore is applied for rheumatic pains, arthritis. Added to bath water it serves as an invigorating, purifying and to tone the skin. The flowers harvested from May to August have similar properties to leaves. From the leaves, by the current of steam, the essential oil of rosemary is extracted, for a 1% by weight, colorless or yellowish liquid, containing pinene, camphene, cineole, eucalyptol and camphor.


It requires a sunny position sheltered from the icy winds, light sandy-peaty soil well drained, but it is not very resistant to rigid and prolonged climates. In spring the plant is renewed by trimming the main shoots, to obtain a bushy appearance, without having to resort to pruning. It easily multiplies by apical cuttings of the new shoots in spring taken from the basal shoots and from the most vigorous plants planted for at least 2/3 of their length in a mixture of peat and sand, or it is sown in April-May, transplanted in September or in the following spring, or multiplies by division of the plant in spring. As a result of the defense mechanisms from heat and arid (Typical of the Mediterranean scrub), the plant presents, if the climate is sufficiently hot and arid in summer and warm in winter, the phenomenon of aestivation, i.e. the plant almost completely stops the vegetation. in summer, while it has the luxuriance of vegetation and the vital phases (Flowering and fruiting) respectively in late autumn or winter, and in spring. In cooler and more humid climates, the vegetation phases can be shifted towards the summer. However, in summer, especially if it is hot, the plant always tends to be in a resting phase.