Merry for Rosemary
by Julie Barnes
A live rosemary plant pruned as a Christmas tree is a great decorative holiday gift. For those who like to cook, the aromatic leaves can be used as flavoring in holiday meals. Rosemary is also used in teas, or in potpourri with its pungent, piney, aroma. This scented herb grows naturally as a sturdy, evergreen plant that has needle shaped leaves and is one of the many culinary members of the mint family including basil, thyme, lavender, savory, lemon balm, marjoram, oregano, and sage. It is native to the dry, rocky areas along the coast of the Mediterranean where its name is derived from the Latin ros meaning “dew,” and marinus, meaning “sea.” Together with beautiful periwinkle flowers, rosemary is known as the “Dew of the Sea.”
Rosemary is steeped in Christmas tradition. Over two thousand years ago, it commonly grew in its native Middle East. There are two legends that involve The Blessed Mary arranging garments over a rosemary plant. During the Holy Family's flight to Egypt, one version had it that when they stopped to rest, Mary draped her blue cloak over a rosemary shrub and its flowers turned from their original white to blue. According to another account, a pleasant scent was bestowed upon this herb after Mary used a rosemary bush as a place to hang the cleaned clothing of the Christ Child. In the Middle Ages rosemary was spread on the floor of the home at Christmas so a fragrance could be released when it was walked upon. A whiff of rosemary on Christmas Eve was believed to safeguard health as well as promote happiness in the upcoming year. Rosemary was also used to ward off evil spirits, or as a disinfectant against illnesses. In the language of flowers Rosemary symbolizes remembrance. At funerals it has been given to grieving relatives to signify that the deceased will not be forgotten. Rosemary is also known to represent friendship and fidelity. At weddings, Rosemary would be wound into a bride’s bouquet or a groom’s boutonniere to remind participants of their vows. Sometimes brides would wear a rosemary wreath as a gesture of their love, happiness and loyalty. Not only does aromatic Rosemary make the holiday season merry for flavoring and decorating but, many cultures have known for millennia of rosemary’s many therapeutic values:
• Rosemary has amazing antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic properties that support the immune system.
• Rosemary has been notoriously linked to memory. Carnosic acid produced in its leaves can actually protect the brain from free radical damage while its other compounds promote healthy blood flow to brain tissue to stimulate the mind.
• As a de-stressor, the scent of rosemary may reduce stressful cortisol levels.
• As a digestive aid, rosemary tea can alleviate cramps, bloating, constipation, or indigestion.
• By steaming Rosemary sprigs, airway inflammation caused by allergies or asthma may be lessened by catching the herbal vapor under a towel over a bowl.
• When this herb is made into rosemary-infused oil, it can be massaged over your chest and throat to relieve chest congestion, or used as an analgesicby rubbing it into sore muscles or aching arthritic areas.
• A few drops of rosemary-oil added to your daily body lotion can be used as an antiseptic for soothing skin Irritations.
• A handful of fresh rosemary thrown into hot bath water has been used to treat stiff, painful joints for centuries.
• It has also been a popular natural migraine treatment achieved by vigorously rubbing a sprig of Rosemary to release and inhale the fragrance.
What a gift to learn that this merry herb could do so much curing.
BUTTERFLIES by Julie Jansen
The Polyphemus Moth
What do Polyphemus Moths look like?
The Polyphemus moth is a large silk moth and is found in tan, reddish-brown, and dark brown colors. The most beautiful characteristic of the species is their hind wings that have two black or blue-lined eye spots. They also have long and bushy antennae. These moths are quite large in size and their wingspan can be up to 4-6 inches long. From being larvae when they are bright green to turning into an adult, this insect never fails to fascinate people with their beauty.
How do they communicate?
The Polyphemus moths follow the same method of communication as other insects. They use vibrations, and body movement while communicating. The male insects generally use the antennae to find the females while the female releases pheromones to send signals. Through the help of a sense of smell and the ability to touch, these insects try to communicate and find each other.
How fast can Polyphemus Moths move?
Generally, the exact speed of Polyphemus moths is being studied by scientists but these insects are indeed quite active during the night. Also, the speed of these moths is determined by the speed of the wind, so moths can attain a speed of more than 50 mph.
What do they eat?
Primarily, the Polyphemus caterpillar diet is the leaves of different trees and shrubs such as sweet gum, birch, grape, hickory, maple, oak, willow, and members of the rose family. Many studies also suggest that the larvae also prey on the shells of their egg and the newly removed skin.
Are they harmful?
Many species of moths can bite and also have stings but the Polyphemus moths are not at all harmful. The adult moth is quite large in size but they generally avoid human interaction and are solitary. But a few cases show that the Polyphemus moths can cause allergies to humans and the larvae of the insects are also poisonous and can cause deaths.
Did you know...
An interesting fact about the Polyphemus moth is that the caterpillar of the species eats more than 86,000 times its weight. When they turn into an adult, they have a reduced mouth and do not eat.
All about Polyphemus Moth cocoons
The entire life cycle of a Polyphemus moth is three months which is divided into multiple stages. It takes 10 days while they are in the egg, then more than five weeks as larvae. After that the caterpillars wrap their body in leaves and make cocoons with the help of silk, the pupae stage ranges from 12-14 days. These insects then come out of their cocoons after the winter season and only live as adults for about 4 days.
Sources: kidad.com and animaldiversity.org