Rosemary Plant: Taxonomical position, Geographical distribution, Characteristics, Chemical Composition, and Uses

Rosemary Plant: Taxonomical position, Geographical distribution, Characteristics, Chemical Composition, and Uses

Taxonomical position

Kingdom: Plantae

Order: Lamiales

Family: Lamiaceae or Labiatae

Genus: Rosmarinus

Botanical name: Rosmarinus officinalis

Common name: Rosemary, Rosmarin, Rosmarino

Geographical distribution

The plant is native to the Caucasus and the Eastern Mediterranean, although it has been brought as an ornamental species to many parts of the world since ancient times (e.g., the rest of Europe, Chile, and China). It is, nevertheless, usually planted in countries with a Mediterranean climate.


Rosemary (Rosmarinus oflicinalis L.) is a popular evergreen plant with a distinctive aromatic scent. It is a member of the major Labiatae family (Lamiaceae), which includes up to 200 genera and 3500 species, and is found naturally in all Mediterranean Sea coastal locations (do Amaral Franco and da Rocha Afonso, 1972). Rosemary leaves are a common spice, and their oil is used in aromatherapy (Mizrzhi et al., 1991), antioxidant activity (Tena et al., 1997; Bicchi et al., 2000; Wada et al., 2004), antimicrobial, and antitumor activities (Tena et al., 1997; Bicchi et al., 2000; Wada et al (Baratta et al., 1998; Pintore et al., 2002; Almela et al., 2006).

Rosemary Plant

Rosmarinus officinalis L. (Family Lamiaceae) is an evergreen perennial shrub. It’s a Mediterranean plant that’s been developed as a common houseplant all around the world (Dong et al., 2012). Italy, Dalmatia, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, France, Portugal, and North Africa are the major producers (Svoboda and Deans, 1992). Rosemary essential oil is used as a spice for foods such as meat, salami, and sauces (Lo-Presti et al., 2005), but it is also utilized as an antioxidant (for food preservation), antibacterial, and antifungal agent against some spoilage organisms due to its chemical active components qualities (Rezzoug et al., 2005).


1. Rosemary is an erect or procumbent evergreen shrub that grows up to 1.8 meters tall. The evergreen brush Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) belongs to the Lamiaceae family. It can grow to a height of approximately 1 m to even 2.5 m in natural conditions.

2. The leaves are non-petiolate and vary in size in the same branch (10–41 mm x 1–3 mm).

3. They have a linear or lanceolate shape and are heavily recurved and sharpened.

4. Due to the presence of numerous glandular (capitate and peltate) and non-glandular trichomes, the upper surface is green and the underside is whitish.

5. It has little flowers with a purple or white bilabiate corolla (8.5–13.5 mm) that are grouped in short clusters.

6. In the second year, the stems become quadrangular, upright, and lignify. They are thickly covered with little needle-like leaves (sessile) with no stalks; the leaves are linear with entire slightly revolute margins that are dark-green above and lighter and tomentose beneath.

7. From early June until August, rosemary flowers. Small white or purplish-blue blooms are grouped in terminal racemose inflorescences.

8. Rosemary is grown throughout the Mediterranean, as well as the former Yugoslavia, the Black Sea coast, the United States, and Mexico.

9. It grows best in full sun and has to be shielded from cold winds (mainly in temperate climate zones). The plant reproduces mostly by sexual reproduction.

10. The soil should be loamy and loose, with good drainage. The plant will have a stronger perfume when cultivated in these conditions but at the sacrifice of growth.

11. The maximum amount of oil is found in leaves generated at the start of bloom, and this is when they should be picked. Non-woody sprigs are also used in place of the leaves. The material is air-dried at 30–35°C after harvesting, ideally in the shade.

12. Rosemary is a branched bushy shrub with upright stems, whitish-blue flowers, and dark green leaves that are small and have their edges turned backward. It grows to a height of about one meter and has upright stems, whitish-blue flowers, and dark green leaves with edges bent backward.

Chemical Composition of Rosemary

Rosemary extract

The leaves are mostly used in the extraction. Ethanol, acetone, and hexane are common solvents used for extraction, while supercritical CO2 extraction is also common. Biologically active chemicals, such as phenolic acids, flavonoids, and terpenes, can be found in significant levels in extracts. Caffeic acid, 4-hydroxybenzoic acid, p-coumaric acid, and rosmarinic acid (0.14 mg/g) were found among the phenolic acids in rosemary extract by researchers. They also discovered luteolin (0.26 mg/g), apigenin (0.45 mg/g), diosmetin (0.21 mg/g), hispidulin, and hesperidin (0.36 mg/g) flavonoids. They discovered carnosic acid (128.15 mg/g), oleanolic acid, ursolic acid, carnosol (30.08 mg/g), rosmanol (1.25 mg/g), rosmaridiphenol, betulin, picrosalvin, -amyrin, and -amyrin, among other di- and triterpenes. The biological effects of rosemary are mostly determined by the contents of its essential oil, which is described separately in a study of the volatile oil fraction’s composition.

Rosemary essential oil

Essential oils can be found in glandular trichomes, the bottoms of leaves, and blooming tops. Depending on whether the leaves are fresh or fully developed and dried, their oil content ranges from 1.0 to 2.5 percent. The essential oil’s content varies based on the country of origin, weather and growing circumstances, harvest time, drying and storage methods, and so on. Variability in the genetic code is also a consideration. The elements -pinene, -pinene, 1,8-cineole, camphene, borneol, camphor, linalool, and -caryophyllene were discovered as shared in common in a quantitative investigation of the chemical makeup of oils from diverse regions (Iran, Morocco, Spain, France, Algeria, Cuba, Argentina, and Italy). The majority of oils contained terpene chemicals such as -myrcene, bornyl acetate, verbenone, limonene, and sabinene. The four primary chemotypes of rosemary are termed after the predominant constituent: -pinene chemotype (Iran, Spain, France, Italy, Romania), 1,8-cineole chemotype (Algeria, Austria, Morocco), camphor chemotype (Cuba, India), and myrcene chemotype (Cuba, India) (Argentina, Portugal).


Rosemary can be propagated using a variety of methods, including seeds, cuttings, layering, and root division. Seeds germinate slowly, and because cross-pollination is always an issue, cultivating true-to-type plants from seed is not a smart idea (Rosemary Production, 2012). Although this aromatic plant can be reproduced vegetatively, stem cuttings have a limited rooting capacity.



Because of its function as a natural food preservative and flavoring agent, rosemary is now grown all over the world. Rosemary has long been utilized in traditional medicine. Its uses have included everything from memory enhancement to the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. The essential oil and extract of rosemary hold the key to its preservative and medicinal properties. While the chemical makeup of these secondary metabolites changes depending on environmental conditions, all rosemary essential oils and extracts contain biologically active molecules that distinguish them.

For millennia, Rosmarinus officinalis has been used as a food preservative and flavoring agent, but its preservation mechanisms have just lately been explored. Recent research has shown that rosemary extracts have potent antibacterial, antifungal, and antioxidant properties, all of which combine to make the plant an excellent food pathogen inhibitor. As people become warier of artificial food additives, demand for safer, more natural preservatives is constantly increasing. Rosemary has been recognized as a natural preservative with low adverse effects that could potentially replace chemical additions. R. officinalis’ medicinal potential is perhaps even more important than its preservation abilities.

Rosemary’s Traditional Uses

1. Rosemary is grown for its aromatic oil, which is extracted by steam distilling the plant’s fresh leaves and flowering tops. It’s a clear or pale yellow liquid with a distinct plant odor.

2. It’s used in colognes, hair tonics, lotions, and cold creams, among other things. As a condiment, the leaves are used to flavor cuisine.

3. It’s been used to treat renal colic, dysmenorrhoea, and respiratory problems as an antispasmodic.

4. It’s also been used as an analgesic, antirheumatic, carminative, cholagogue, diuretic, expectorant, antiepileptic, and antiepileptic, as well as for effects on human fertility.

5. It’s also used as a pesticide and herbicide, as well as a general tonic in cases of excessive physical or mental work, as well as in cardiac disorders.

6. It’s a rubefacient that’s used to promote hair growth and cure scalp eczema, boils, and sores on the outside.

7. Rosemary’s various functions have piqued attention, and its volatile oil, plant extracts, and some isolated compounds have all been submitted to pharmacological studies.


Apigenin, Betulin, Betulinic acid, Caffeic acid, Camphor, Carnosic acid, Carnosol, Carnosol isomer, methyl carnosate, cirsimaritin, diosmin, hesperidin, luteolin 3′-O-beta-D-glucuronide, luteolin 3′-O-(3″-O-acetyl)-beta-D-glucur (Senorans et al., 2000; Okamura et al., 1994). From a methanolic extract of Rosmarinus officinalis L., rosmariquinone, a diterpene, has been identified (Houlihan et al., 1985). A volatile oil containing 0.8-6 percent esters and 8-20 percent free alcohols is found in the leaves, ranging from 0.5 to 2.5 percent (Chandler, 1995). Monoterpenes, phenols, sesquiterpenes, monoterpenoid ethers, monoterpenoid ketones, monoterpenoid alcohols, and monoterpenoid esters, camphor, eucalyptol, -pinene, and borneol are all found in the essential oil, which is a colorless or pale yellow liquid with a camphoraceous taste (Fahim et al., 1999; Steinmetz et al., 1987). It contains 1,8-cineole (20–50%), -pinene (15–25%), camphor (10–25%), bornyl acetate (1–5%), borneol (1-6%), camphene (5–10%), and -terpineol (12–24%), as well as limonene, -pinene, -caryophyllene, and myrcene (ESCOP, 1997). The essential oil produced by 40-day-old in vitro proliferating branches of Rosmarinus officinalis L. var. genuine forma Erectus, 1.8 percent fresh weight, was comparable in components to that obtained from 1-year-old plants, whether naturally grown or in vitro-raised potted plants. Except for bornyl acetate and 1,8 cineole, where the concentration was higher, the quantity of the individual elements discovered was marginally lower in the former case than in the latter two kinds (Jain et al., 1991).

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