Jay Chou has a well-known song called “Rosemary”, in which there is a lyric: “You laugh with the wind, smell of rosemary, and you are coquettish with mint, and send out to me. A signal of love. You are graceful like a cat, moving around lightly, and the sweetness of love spreads and ferments…” Although this is a song describing the charm of women, the lyricist Fang Wenshan is obviously not interested in the concept of “rosemary”. This fragrant plant is very familiar and has a soft spot for it. Therefore, between the lines of this lyric, the beautiful image of rosemary is constantly flashing with clarity and precision all the time.
So, what kind of plant is rosemary, and why did the golden lyricist Saint Fang Wenshan write it affectionately, and let Jay Chou sing for it?
Dew of the Sea
Rosemary is a small shrub of the genus Rosemary in the Lamiaceae family. It is native to the Mediterranean coast and is naturally distributed in coastal, sandy, cliffside and rocky desertification areas in southern Europe, northern Africa and western Asia. This unique natural growth environment makes rosemary form a habit of liking a warm and humid climate. It grows faster in winter when the weather is sunny and there is no cold current, but it grows slowly in an environment where the temperature is too high.
The height of the rosemary plant is no more than 2 meters, its branches are round and square, the main stem and old branches are cylindrical, the cortex is dark gray, there are irregular longitudinal fissures, and it peels off in blocks; young branches are Quadrangular, densely covered with white star-shaped fine hairs. The leaves of rosemary are also very distinctive. They are long and narrow linear, about 1-2.5 cm long, 1.2 mm wide, blunt at the apex, attenuated at the base, entire, and curled to the back; the leaves are leathery and slightly glossy above. , nearly glabrous, densely covered with white stellate hairs below; the leaves are not only slender as needles, but also in large numbers, usually clustered on the branches, so they have strong drought resistance, as long as the soil is slightly moist, it can be meet its need for moisture.
Compared with stems and leaves, rosemary flowers have a unique charm. The flowers are nearly sessile, opposite, a few gathered at the top of the short branches, forming a raceme; the calyx of the small flowers is ovate bell-shaped, about 4 mm long, covered with white stellate villi and glands, and the inner surface is smooth and glabrous. There are upper and lower lips, the upper lip is nearly round, entire or with very short 3 teeth, the lower lip has 2 teeth, each tooth is oval triangle; the corolla of the florets is blue, light blue, pink or white, not as long as 1 cm, sparsely pubescent on the outside, glabrous on the inside, the crown tube is slightly extended, the crown is two-lipped, the upper lip is straight, 2-lobed, the lobes are oval, the lower lip is broad, 3-lobed, the middle lobe is the largest , concave and decumbent, the margin is toothed, the base is constricted into a stalk, the lateral lobes are oblong; the stamens are 2, inserted below the lower lip of the corolla, the style is slender, beyond the stamens, the apex has unequal 2 Shallow lobed, lobes subulate. It is precisely because the flowers of rosemary are beautiful, exquisite and lovely, and the color is usually between white and light blue, which looks like small water droplets, so it is named rosmarinus in Latin, which is “the dew of the ocean”. mean.
Of course, the reason why rosemary is called “the dew of the ocean”, in addition to its flowers are shaped like water droplets, there are many other explanations. For example, there is a saying that the plant rosemary was first discovered on the cliffs of the Mediterranean coast, so people regarded it as “the dew of the sea”. Another theory is related to the birth of Aphrodite, the god of love and beauty in ancient Greek mythology. Legend has it that Uranus, the first king of the gods, was overthrown by his son Krolos and thrown into the Aegean Sea after the defeat, and a lot of white foam appeared in the sea. The foam was washed by the waves to the edge of the cliff and turned into clumps of rosemary blooming with white flowers. And Aphrodite also came down at the place where the foam was thickest—that is, where the rosemary bloomed. Therefore, rosemary, which is transformed from ocean foam, is called “Ocean Dew”.
Our Lady of the Rosary
I don’t know if it has something to do with the birth of Aphrodite, the god of love and beauty. Rosemary has always been regarded as a sacred grass that can bring happiness to people in the West. It represents love and beautiful memories. Defined as a symbol of love, loyalty and friendship.
No matter in ancient Egypt, ancient Greece, or ancient Rome, people believed that rosemary represented a kind of hope of life and peace of death, and had the effect of expelling demons. To the greatest and all-powerful deity to express the devotion of his heart. In religious activities with a solemn atmosphere and a sense of ritual, the ancient Greeks would also weave the most slender and complete rosemary branches into garlands and wear them on their heads to show their infinite admiration for the gods.
The flower language of rosemary is “memory”. Shakespeare’s masterpiece “Hamlet” has such a classic sentence: “Rosemary, to help recall; dear, please keep it in your heart.” In Victorian England, the flower language of rosemary was extended from “memory” When it comes to “remembrance”, it symbolizes long-lasting love, loyal friendship and eternal remembrance. Dedicating rosemary to a loved one represents loving care. To give someone a bouquet of rosemary is to hope that the other person will wipe away the sadness of their memories, and tell the other person, “I will not forget the promise you made to me. Please keep your love for me forever, miss me, and remember me.” This custom has continued, and every year on April 25, Anzac Day, the British prince will always wear a bouquet of rosemary on his chest when he attends the event.
Not only in Britain, but throughout Europe since the 16th century, it has become popular to plant rosemary on the graves of the deceased, representing eternal life, love and beautiful memories. Italians will also put sprigs of rosemary into the graves of the deceased at funerals to express their admiration and remembrance for the deceased. In fact, rosemary with a strong herbal smell can indeed repel insects and ants and protect the body of the deceased from harm.
According to legend, rosemary flowers were originally pure white, colorless and odorless. Afterwards, the Virgin Mary held the infant Jesus in her arms. She was exhausted on the way to flee to Egypt. While sitting on the roadside to rest, she casually spread her purple cloak on the rosemary bushes blooming by the roadside. Those white Immediately, the flowers were dyed the same blue-purple color as the cloak, exuding a special fragrance bestowed by the Virgin, and possessed powerful effects of improving memory, conditioning the skin, and resisting bacteria and viruses. As a result, rosemary has gained the reputation of “The Virgin of the Rosary”.
Although this is just a good legend, people clearly believe in the wonderful fragrance and special power of rosemary. It is said that Cleopatra, the ancient Cleopatra and the Queen of Hungary liked to bathe with rosemary, and made a lotion from the essential oil extracted from rosemary, and used it to cover their faces every day, so even if they were getting older Long, still with delicate skin, looking as beautiful as a young woman, many European aristocrats envied.
In 1603, the plague known as the Black Death ravaged Europe. Just when people were terrified, a recipe called “Four Thieves Vinegar” was born and spread quietly among the people. It is believed that as long as you take this medicine made from four herbs, you can effectively prevent the plague. This “magic medicine” that brings great comfort and infinite hope is made of rosemary with parsley, sage, and thyme. The Italians are also said to have sold a “Seven Thieves Vinegar”, which was formulated with wormwood, mint, bellflower root, lavender, garlic and sage in addition to rosemary.
As a very famous aromatic plant, rosemary emits a certain fragrance during the growing season; especially its stems, leaves and flowers have a grass-like cool smell and a slightly pungent sweet camphor smell. The fragrance is very pleasant and has a refreshing effect. Therefore, since ancient times, rosemary has been used by people to enhance and enhance memory. In Mediterranean countries such as Greece, families with children in school burn rosemary before exams, because its unique scent can inspire progress and keep the mind clear. When the outgoing ship is lost, the lost sailors will rely on the rich aroma of rosemary to find the location of the land, so as to get rid of the lost dilemma. Therefore, rosemary is affectionately called “sea lighthouse” by sailors .
Why does the smell of rosemary have such a magical effect? This is of course closely related to its composition. The flowers, leaves and branches of rosemary contain a wide variety of volatile substances, including hesperidin, geranin, amarin, acerola glucoside, psyllium glucoside, nepaloflavone glycoside, and apigenin-7 – Glucoside, luteolin glucoside, luteolin glucuronide, sage picrolide, rosmarinine, isorosmarinine, balsinol, davidin, rosmarinol, ursin Fruit acid, oleanolic acid, betulinic acid, rosmarinic acid, carnosic acid, labiata tannic acid, etc. Its roots also contain taxodiquinone, 7α-hydroxy racemoid quinone, cryptotanshinone, etc. , so the smell is very strong, especially refreshing.
Rosemary not only has the functions of refreshing, calming and soothing the nerves, but also can enhance people’s attention. It can be used to treat various diseases such as insomnia, palpitations, headaches, etc. It can effectively improve the obstacles of language, vision and hearing. Stomach pain has a certain effect. Under the guidance of a doctor, mash the whole rosemary plant, soak it in boiling water, drink it two or three times a day, it can not only calm, diuretic, aid digestion, but also strengthen the heart and liver function, lower blood sugar, promote metabolism, and help arteries The treatment of sclerosis helps to restore the mobility of paralyzed limbs; external use of rosemary can treat trauma and arthritis, rheumatic pain. Putting rosemary indoors can effectively purify the air.
Like many aromatic plants, rosemary has a strong astringent effect. Therefore, it can effectively condition greasy skin, promote blood circulation of peripheral blood vessels, stimulate hair regeneration, improve hair loss, and thus greatly delay aging. But it must be noted that pregnant women must be disabled, otherwise it will be detrimental to the fetus.
In addition, in the branches and leaves of rosemary, α-pinene, camphorene, 1,8-cineole, borneol, camphor, α-terpineol, 4-terpinenol, verbenone, acetic acid The content of volatile oil with antibacterial effect such as bornolate is very high, so it also has good antibacterial and antiseptic effect. As early as in ancient Egypt more than 3000 BC, rosemary was used for mummification and preservation, proving that in that long time, people were able to fully understand and utilize the bactericidal effect of rosemary. When influenza broke out in Europe, people often burned rosemary in hospitals to kill bacteria.
Rosemary is a precious natural spice, its twigs and flowers are often used to extract aromatic essential oils, which are used in the preparation of air cleaners, perfumes, soaps and cosmetic raw materials, and in skin care oils, hair restorers, laundry creams, etc. widely used in production. The reason why the cologne that the public knows and loves can have a fresh, elegant and refreshing scent is inseparable from the contribution of rosemary.
Of course, as a pure natural aromatic condiment, the application of rosemary in the diet is obviously more deeply rooted in the hearts of the people. In representative Western dishes such as steak, potato dishes and grilled products, there are two most frequently used spices, that is, rosemary and thyme. Western food with rosemary will have a particularly sweet and rich fragrance, which is sweet and slightly bitter, exuding a pine-like smell and flavor, which makes people unforgettable.
Dried rosemary powder is usually used in home cooking. Whether cooking chicken, duck, seafood, or beef and mutton, just add a small amount of rosemary powder after the dish is cooked to effectively enhance the flavor. Especially when grilling sausages, cured meats and other foods, sprinkle some rosemary powder, the grilled meat will be particularly delicious. If the dish needs to be heated for a long time, you can also use dried rosemary whole grass instead of rosemary powder, the aroma will be stronger. When stewing soup or stir frying potatoes, tomatoes, radishes and other vegetables, you can also add a small amount of dried rosemary leaves or fresh leaves, just take out the rosemary leaves when you are eating, and a strong fragrance has been left in the dishes. middle. Dried rosemary herbs are also unique when they are soaked in grape vinegar and eaten as a dip for baguettes or garlic bread. Also, when making a salad, add a little rosemary to make a herb salad dressing.
Rosemary is also a natural spice that is particularly suitable for making beverages. Vermouth, a wine-based wine made from infusions of aromatic plants, is a popular pre-dinner aperitif. As early as in ancient Greece, it was regarded by princes and nobles as a fitness tool that could help people live forever. Tonic wine. The formula of vermouth is relatively complex, usually made from a variety of aromatic plants. It is said that more than 20 kinds of herbs have been used at most, but no matter how the formula changes, rosemary will always be one of the indispensable spices.
If you also have a strong interest in rosemary beverages, you may wish to make a pot of rosemary tea by yourself. The production method is also very simple. Take an appropriate amount of rosemary hay or fresh grass, wash it, put it into a pot, pour in about 400 ml of boiling water, soak it for 3 to 5 minutes, add an appropriate amount of honey or sugar, and you can drink it. If you combine rosemary with verbena or lemongrass to make a pot of mixed scented tea, the taste will be more rich and charming.
Rosemary is also currently recognized as a plant with strong antioxidant effects. Carnosic acid, carnosol, rosemary phenol, ursolic acid, and rosmarinic acid in its plants are all highly effective antioxidants. Oxidizing components. Therefore, rosemary is often used as a natural food additive and is widely used in the production of various foods to help food maintain its fresh taste and quality.
Rosemary, a western aromatic plant originating from the Mediterranean coast, has also spent more than 1,800 years in my country. As early as the Three Kingdoms period, rosemary was brought eastward to China by merchants from the Western Regions along the Silk Road with camel bells. At first, they were only worn on the body as decorations and had the effect of incense. They were a kind of natural “perfume” that only nobles could afford.
In 220, Cao Pi established Cao Wei and made Luoyang the capital. He fought with his father Cao Cao all over his life, and then fought for power and throne. Although he went through ups and downs, he was always obsessed with rosemary. According to historical records, Cao Pi “planted rosemary in the atrium, spit out incense, and made fragrance”. Because it was boring to enjoy alone, he also invited his brother Cao Zhi, as well as Kong Rong, Chen Lin, Wang Can, Xu Gan, Ruan Yu, Ying Jue, Liu Zhen and other “seven sons of Jian’an” to enjoy the charming taste of rosemary. When he was in high spirits, he asked everyone to compose a poem with the title “Rosemary”. Of course, Cao Pi also practiced himself, and took the lead in writing a poem “Rosemary Fu” with a profound artistic conception: “In the hall of life, you can see the garden of fragrant grass. Stems. Chengling dew is used to moisten the roots, and the sun and the moon are filled with glory. It is shaken by the returning wind, and the muqing of fragrant air. Fang Xi, who believed in the world and was born.”
Among these famous poems praising rosemary, Cao Zhi’s “Rosemary Fu” is undoubtedly the most outstanding. He wrote in his fu: “The beautiful grass that sows the western capital, should be condensed in response to youth. The green leaves flow on the fine kelp, and the roots are rooted in the danchi. Believe in the speed of prosperity, but it will not fade away in Yanshuang. . The secluded orchid of Fang Muqiu, the zhiying of Li Kunlun. After harvesting from time to time, then slaughtered to increase the fragrance. Remove the branches and leaves and make it special, and enter the misty clothes of silk. It is attached to the jade body to stop the movement, and it is smooth. The breeze is soothing.” Cao Zhi also wrote a preface to this “Rosemary Fu”: “Rosemary comes out of Xishu, and the soil where it grows is like Wodan. After the severe winter, the flowers begin to bloom; The beads are like fire, and the fragrance of the wear is immersed in the body, and the person who smells it is infatuated and cannot go away, so it is called rosemary.” His poems not only vividly described the growth of rosemary’s branches, leaves and flowers, but also pointed out rosemary. The main function of incense at that time was to wear sachets, to dye clothes and the body, indicating that rosemary had been used in gardens at that time.
Although Cao Pi and others regard rosemary as a treasure, it is a relatively unfamiliar exotic plant after all, so it was not taken seriously after that, and even almost became a weed for a time. It was not until the Ming Dynasty, when the medical saint Li Shizhen included it in the Compendium of Materia Medica, that the value of rosemary was paid attention to again. Li Shizhen has such a record in “Compendium of Materia Medica”: “When Emperor Wen of Wei was transplanted from the Western Regions in the courtyard, he and Cao Zhi had their own blessings. The general idea is that the grass is trimmed with dry and soft stems, thin branches and weak roots. Harvest and kill, remove the branches and leaves. Wear it in a bag, the fragrance is very strong. It has the same breath as today’s fragrance.”
After that, rosemary again fragrant the land of China, and its medicinal value was gradually valued. In the Qing Dynasty The “Compendium of Materia Medica Supplements” records that “its taste is acrid, warm in nature, and it controls bad qi”. Modern medical books also began to have more descriptions of rosemary. For example, “The Pharmacology of Chinese Medicine” called it “aromatic and invigorating the stomach and promoting digestive function.” “Chinese Medicine Planting Guide” says it is “strong, sweating, stomach, and nerves. It can cure all kinds of headaches. Mixed with borax to make an infusion, it can prevent early baldness.” “The Great Dictionary of Botany” records: “The leaves of rosemary are used as medicine for menstrual flow. The branches and leaves are distilled, and rosemary oil is taken for external use, and there are also internal use.”