Rosemary bush vs. Rosemary herb bought as herb

mangomoonFebruary 8, 2011

I am confused with this herb. I purchased a rosemary herb in the herb (for culinary use) department. They also had it growing in large pots with blue flowers growing. My neighbors have it as hedges in their front yards. The tag at the nursery for the large bush with the blue flowers did NOT say it was for culinary purposes.

What is the difference between the two? The herb that I purchased has slightly thicker and larger leaves, although the scent is the same between the two.

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There are several species of rosemary, and they all can be used for culinary and medicinal purposes - just look for the botanical name 'Rosmarinus officinalis'. The common name for some unrelated plants might contain the word 'rosemary', but aren't necessarily edible - this is why it's so important to learn the botanical names of any herbs you grow.

I suspect the 2 plants you saw were one and the same species. A baby plant will have baby-sized leaves - a grown-up will have adult-sized leaves. Right?

Also, in many cases with herbs, you can allow your nose to guide you. Don't be afraid to break off a leaf, crush it and smell it. If you had done that with both plants, I'll be willing to bet that they smelled the same.

However, you're wise to be cautious. If ever in doubt, ask an expert. Any good nursery will have at least one qualified horticulturist who can advise you.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 7:19PM
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Rosemary blooms are blue (and popular with bees). Your neighbors would probably be delighted to give you cuttings of their rosemary, assuming it's the same culinary herb, that you could root and plant either directly in the ground (keep it trimmed -- I'm the one who has the MONSTROUS rosemary, discussed in a different thread) or in a big pot. I love the smell of it, and stroke it whenever I pass just to get the aroma. If you do a lot of grilling the larger stems can be trimmed off and used as skewers, adding a wonderful flavor.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 7:48PM
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CA Kate

I have several different varieties of Rosemary in my gardens. Most I wouldn't want to cook with because they are too strong. I have two that are what I consider culinary Rosemary and have a lovely, mild rosemary flavor; their leaves are also shorter than the stronger-smelling kinds.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 9:20PM
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Not all rosemary's have blue blooms. Depending on the type and for some soil conditions I have seen anything from white to pink to bright blue blooms on rosemary plants, all officinalis.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2011 at 1:11AM
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