Florida rosemary is not related to the edible herb rosemary, which is in the mint family. It is one of the showier plants in scrub habitat, which is the only place you’ll find it. Rosemary scrubs are uncommon, but we’ve encountered several on Florida’s trails: at Johnson Pond, Chuluota Wilderness, and Lake May Preserve. It’s in many spots in the midst of the Ocala National Forest, too.
In an odd adaptation to its harsh, desert-like environment, the rosemary bush releases a natural herbicide into the sand to inhibit the growth of its seedlings and other plants, a process called allelopathy. Not until fire sweeps through the scrub does the chemical dissipate, allowing at least one seedling to take root and occupy the place of the parent, accounting for the near-perfect spacing between rosemary bushes in the scrub.