The herb Rosemary is part of the labiatae (mint) family, and grows naturally in rocky Mediterranean soils. In the right conditions it can grow as high as six feet tall.
We mostly know of rosemary as a food flavouring these days - it is widely used when roasting meats such as lamb. This probably came about as a result of its use to preserve meat - rosemary, thyme and hyssop were rubbed into fresh meat to prevent it spoiling in the days before refrigeration.
A shrubby evergreen, rosemary carries sky blue flowers containing large amounts of a sweetly pungent essential oil - the aroma is quite similar to pine needles.
Its use in herbal medicine goes back many centuries. As with many other pungent plants, it has antibacterial properties - indeed, it used to be burned in French hospitals as a simple disinfectant.
Its medicinal uses were many and varied - it was believed to help with blood borne diseases, and also to treat the symptoms of a cold.
Aromatherapists use it as an antidote to nervous exhaustion and fatigue - indeed, so strong is its effect that it is not recommended for use by people with epilepsy or high blood pressure.
It is also widely used in shampoos and hair care products, particularly by people with greasy hair and dandruff.