Rosmarinus officinalis L.
This article was translated by Angela Iancu!
Rosmarin; Fr.: Rosmarin; G. Rosmarin; u.: Rozmarin;R.: Rosmarin lekarstvennîi.
Identification elements: the plant: woody, perennial, fragrant herb, in Romania only cultivated, with evergreen leaves, 60 – 150 (200) cm tall; stem: upright, with ascending or curved branches, the crust of the stem peeled off at the base, in the upper part is quadrangular, hairy and grey; leaves: are opposite, with numerous insertions, evergreen and leathery, linear shape and sessile; flowers: are grouped in 3 – 10 in numerous dichasia positioned on the upper leaves axils, giving the appearance of a spike; the flowers are pale blue or slightly violet, with a bilabiate corolla, hairy on the outside, the upper lip formed out of two petals is sharply sectate, the lower lip is formed out of 3 petals – the middle one is more developed, shaped as a spoon; 4 stamina (2 of them primitive); fruits: brown, ovate nucula long of 1,5 – 2,5 cm, 1 – 3 cm wide, grouped in 4 in the persistent calyx.
Flowering: IV – V.
Raw material: Folium Rosmarini – largely used in the past in the drugstores as well – in the present with a very limited usage. This raw material is formed out of the leaves 2 – 3 cm long and 2 – 3 mm wide, linear, sessile, acicular, evergreen, pointed or slightly obtuse, with the edges curved down, on the front green with hues of light grey, hairless and shiny.
The lower part of the leave is covered with protective and glandular hairs, which gives it a grey-green color. The median nerve is developed and outstanding, visible on the underside. The smell is characteristic, similar to camphor and the taste is bitter – aromatic. Currently, the fresh raw material it is more required – Herba rosmarini – formed out of stems and leave branches harvested during flowering, 1 – 2 year old, cut at maximum 10 cm below the last ramification. These are processed while fresh.
Ecology and distribution: The Mediterranean origin leaves its mark on the ecological requirements of the plant. The limitative ecologic factor is the temperature because the rosemary needs a warm climate, without big temperature fluctuations, and it cannot endure the winter unless there are favorable conditions like temperatures not less than -2 …-3°C and a snow layer to protect it. It requires direct sunlight.
It does not demand certain humidity, the mature plant can endure relatively well periods of draught because of the thick hairs on the back of the leaves. It requires deep light soils, rich in calcium, easy to warm and permeable, with south-west exposure.
The plant is being cultivated for ornamental purposes in individual gardens and in winter is sheltered in basements, closed verandas or rooms.
Cultivation technology: The rosemary is a subshrub, which cultivation lasts up to 20 years and it requires that the soil is free from weeds, especially from perennial weeds. Even if the rosemary is cultivated less than 20 years (4 – 10 years) on the same soil a new crop cannot grow on the same terrain for about 7 – 8 years. The soil that is going to be cultivated with rosemary has to be worked 40 – 50 cm deep and during winter it is left with furrows. In autumn, under the furrow it is incorporated 20 – 30 t/ ha of well fermented compost together with 60 kg/ha of phosphor and in the spring, before cultivation, the soil is treated with 60 kg/ha of nitrogen. In spring, as soon as the terrain is dry the soil is broken up and down and it is kept free of weeds until plantation.
In order to increase the acclimatization of the rosemary, the proliferation is done in warm seed beds. These hotbeds are preferred because the plants developed in the first year are more resistant to diseases and freezing.
For one hectare it is necessary 70 m² of hotbeds in which are seeded 600 g of seeds with 90% purity, 70% germination and 12% maximum humidity. The average weight of 1000 seeds is of 1,06905 g and a gram contains approx. 933 seeds. The seeding is done in the last part of January at a depth of 0,3-0,5 cm. Better results were obtained if the surface of the hotbeds was of 150 m² and the rosemary was planted in flower pots; in this case the quantity of seeds per hectare is reduced to half (300 g) so in each flower pot 4 seeds are planted and after emergence 1-2 plants are to be left. The planting in the field of the seedlings or of the flower pots with seedling is done in spring, after the danger of freezing has passed, usually in the first decade of May. The interval between rows is 1,2 m and the distance between plants on the same row is 1 m. Only well developed seedlings will be used. During planting, make sure that the roots are not bent. After planting, water well and cover with dry earth. Starting with the first year of cultivation, all the care will go into developing strong shrubs, keeping the soil free of weeds and aired.
In autumn, at the end of vegetation, there will be executed a hilling of the plants and the thickness of the earth will correspond to the average temperatures in winter. Besides hilling with earth, the plants will be covered with a layer of straws 10-20 cm thick, at least in the first 5 years of cultivation. The covering material has to be very dry and is used when the earth freezes 3-5 cm; it’s not allowed to use it when the soil is not frozen.
In the second year, in early spring, all the branches are shorted so that there are left 3-4 nodes. The short cutting will make each node to develop vigorous side shoots which will help forming a strong shrub. In the future, these shoots will form the plant and the more developed they are the more strong and lasting the plant is. In the spring, the straws are removed after the soil becomes unfrozen. Other maintenance works are destroying the weeds on time and keeping the soil aired. Every spring, as supplementary fertilizer, there will be added 60 kg/ha of phosphor and nitrogen. Every 6-7 years, the shrubs will be rejuvenated by cutting the plant at 7-8 cm from the base of the stem.
Starting with the third year of cultivation, the floral apices will be harvested when the plants are massively in flower.
The harvesting is done twice a year with a reaping hook or a grape scissors. One hectare can produce 2500-3000 kg of fresh raw material with flowers.
The harvested raw material is transported within 2-3 hours to the distillation stations where the volatile rosemary oil will be extracted, oil that is much appreciated in the cosmetic industry.
Preparing the product for conditioning: The product is delivered fresh.
The technical conditions for reception require that the product is formed out of unlignified stems with leaves (of 1 or max. 2 years), cut max. 10 cm below the last ramification. Are admitted 5% of impurities, organic and mineral foreign bodies - max. 1% for each; normal humidity of the fresh product.
Chemical structure: The leaves and branches harvested during flowering contain 0,5-2% volatile oil with a chemical structure formed out of: α-pinene, camfen, borneol, esters of borneol, cineole, camphor, bornil acetate, eucalyptol, sesquiterpenes, small quantities of cariophilen, one alkaloid – rosmaricina, rosmarinic acid. Also the plant contains oleanolic, ursolic, glycolic and glyceric, caffeic acids, vitamin C etc.
Pharmaceutical actions – therapeutic uses: the rosemary leaves have been empirically used for a long time to treat stomach and bowels diseases, also have been used as a stimulant and a tonic – bitter- aromatic, anti diarrheic, vermifuge, in menopause distress, spice etc; externally – as a parasiticide, to keep away moths etc. It is a component of the “Opeldoch Balm”, used I the past to treat rheumatism. Recent research confirmed the choleretic and stimulative action (the oil in small dosage) as well as the bacteristatic effect on large number of pathogenic germs. In our country the therapeutic usage is limited. It is mostly used to obtain the volatile oil for the cosmetic industry.