Rosemary (Rosemarinus officialinalus) has a long history of use as a natural insect repellant, along with culinary and medicinal use.
It is native to the chalky hills surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, where it grows best. It can grow as large as four feet, in a preferred habitat. It has narrow, pointed leaves with release a strong, but pleasant aroma when crushed.
Aside from Mediterranean countries, the United States and United Kingdom are now major producers as well. While it is very drought tolerant, it dislikes soggy, poorly drained soil and prefers rocky or sandy soils with adequate drainage. It blooms profusely in early spring, covering itself with pale blue flowers. Bees frequent the plant for its nectar, which is a boon because little else blooms that time of year. Honey from bees feeding on the plant is quite tasty.
Many plant diseases or pests do not challenge Rosemary, but it is not cold hardy.
It is harvested for both culinary use and for preparation of essential oils. It is taken from both wild and cultivated plants. After Harvest, the leaves are allowed to dry in shaded areas. This helps to preserve aroma and color.
Dried rosemary leaves are used for seasoning a variety of dishes, and sometimes the stems are used as skewers for shish kebobs. It is also used in potpourri.
The leaves and oil have antibacterial and antioxidant properties. The oil is often combined with water to mist sick rooms and clear bacteria from the air.
The essential oil contains cineole, pinene, camphor, bornylacetate, camphene, linalool, d- limonene, borneal, myrcene, terpineol, and –caroyophyllene.
The oil is extracted from all parts of the plant growing above the ground. The oil is prepared by steam distillation, or by leaching with organic compounds.
Aside from its long history of use and an insect repellant, it is used medicinally as a disinfectant agent, a stimulant, and to improve memory. It has been reported for use in treating cancer.
All in all, if you live where rosemary will grow readily, it is a handy addition to your arsenal of natural mosquito repellants. It has a fresh aroma you will enjoy; it is an attractive landscape plant. And you will have some left over for the kitchen too.