I love gifting and receiving rosemary Christmas trees. These fragrant holiday herbs make great gifts for family and friends. I use them holiday centerpieces and they add a little extra flavor to my holiday meals as I snip away at the aromatic leaves to bring out that distinctive rosemary smell.

Rosemary Christmas trees appear in all kinds of holiday catalogs and stores, breaking away from the confines of garden centers and nurseries. Here are 5 of the many reasons why so many people love rosemary Christmas trees.

1. Rosemary Christmas Trees Make Great Gifts

The first reason why these festive little trees are so popular is fairly obvious. Wrapped in a red bow and set in a holiday themed pot, these Mediterranean herbs make great gifts. Rosemary plants are relatively easy to care for and don't require excessive watering, making them perfect for those lacking a green thumb. The conical shape of the plants is seasonally appropriate, creating perfect holiday centerpieces that you can even decorate with lights and tiny ornaments.

Whether it's your boss or your mother, rosemary trees offer an affordable green alternative to the usual holiday fanfare. They make perfect gifts for culinary inclined loved ones, yet are generic enough to safely give everyone in the office. This wide appeal is the main reason their popularity is growing every year, but it is not the only one.

2. Flavor Holiday Dishes With Rosemary

I cook lamb for the holidays. Rosemary and lamb are inseparable in most cookbooks, so my rosemary tree starts to look a little shorn by the end of the season. Ground into a paste or added as a garnish, rosemary is essential to my winter kitchen.

Lamb is not the only holiday dish rosemary successfully flavors. Rosemary potatoes make a fragrant side, and rosemary chicken will have your family sniffing around the kitchen all evening. I like to add a little rosemary to loaves of bread and breadsticks for a nice herbed touch, and rosemary goes well with most meats and poultry. Here are a few rosemary recipes to give you some holiday dining ideas.

Rosemary doesn't lose its flavor when the holidays are over. There are many culinary uses for rosemary year-round. Keep your rosemary tree indoors during the cold months and let it soak up the sun during the summer. If you live in a warmer climate, plant your rosemary tree outside and watch it grow into a fragrant shrub.

3. Rosemary Improves Your Memory

Your fond memories of your rosemary tree might improve over time, along with your memory, studies suggest. If you find your holiday memories sharpening, thank your rosemary plant.

Rosemary is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. This makes it part of a healthy diet, as well as a flavorful seasoning. Rosemary has a long history of improving memory in folklore. It is most famously referenced by Ophelia in Shakespeare's Hamlet:

"There's rosemary, that's for remembrance."

Scientists are only recently starting to explore these connections, but what they are finding is certainly interesting.

In studies with both humans and mice, rosemary does indeed appear to improve memory. Specifically, it seems to improve our ability to "remember to remember." Next time you remind yourself to remember to send your mother a birthday card, sniff some rosemary. Studies of mice also found that rosemary appeared to decrease stress levels. In today's fast-paced world, that is reason enough in my book to keep a rosemary tree around.

Wafting your rosemary tree might not be enough to get these effects by itself. Scientific studies so far mostly deal with essential oils and highly concentrated doses of rosemary. Still, it certainly can't hurt to rub a few leaves together once a day for remembrances sake.

4. Rosemary Plants Improves Air Quality

NASA proved the benefits of indoor houseplants in 1989 with the NASA Clean Air Study. Houseplants, they found, filter harmful toxins out of the air we breathe and act to purify indoor air. According to the study, certain plants filter better than others. Tropical plants that grow well in shade were the winners, as their ability to photosynthesize indoors is higher than most. However, as I can't help but observe, few of the plants on NASA's list are edible.

Rosemary cleans your air while also providing your home with a pleasant fragrance and massive culinary potential. Combine it with a few of the plants on NASA's list for your own indoor air filtration system.

5. Keep The Spirit Of Giving Alive

Native to the Mediterranean, rosemary is moderately resistant to drought and does well in south facing windowsills. With a little attention, most rosemary plants live for several years. This means that a gift of a rosemary plant is a gift that keeps on giving for years to come. With its memory enhancing benefits, it should be easy to remember to keep the spirit of giving alive year round - and to remember to water your rosemary tree.

There is so much violence and hate on the news these days. We could all use a little reminder of the good things in the world. Maybe this is a lot to expect from one little rosemary Christmas tree, but every little gesture counts. I certainly feel better every time I crush a leaf between my fingers.