Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), also known as sea dew, and thyme (Thymus vulgaris), also known as common thyme, are both plants belonging to the Labitae family. They have similar and diverging uses in cuisine and herbal medicine.
Rosemary is an evergreen shrub that is native to southern Europe. It has leaves shaped like needles that are green on top and silver gray on the bottom, and blooms of light blue flowers.
Thyme is a low-growing sub-shrub or woody perennial herb. It has woody, white and velvety stems, pointed aromatic gray green leaves and light purple to pink or white flowers. It is also a native to southern Europe.
Rosemary is used as a savory spice for meat and soup, perfume ingredient and in herbal medicine. In herbal medicine, it is used in dandruff shampoos as well as dark hair conditioners. Its leaves are believed to stimulate circulation and digestion and to be an antiseptic and antioxidant. Rosemary is also used for memory enhancement.
Rosemary is also used for its oil made from flower tops. This oil is considered to be antibacterial and antifungal and is also thought to be a circulation and central nervous system stimulator.
Like rosemary, thyme is used as a spice, as a perfume ingredient and in alternative medicine as a digestive aid. Thyme is also used for improving the immune system.
Like rosemary, thyme is used for its oil. However, thyme oil comes from both its leaves and flower tops, and is used for acne, respiratory problems including coughs, muscle pain, depression and colds.
Rosemary and thyme are both used as spices in savory food and as scent ingredients in perfume. Rosemary is used in Italian cuisine, pork, shellfish and rabbit, while thyme is used in stews, soups and Benedictine liquor.