Winter Savory (Satureja Montana) is an herb in the family Lamiaceae, native to warm temperate regions of southern Europe and Mediterranean.
It is a perennial plant growing to 16 in (41 cm) tall. The leaves are opposite, oval-lanceolate, 1–2 cm long and 5 mm broad.
The stems are woody at the base, diffuse, much branched. The leaves are oblong, linear and acute, or the lower ones spatulate or wedge-shaped and obtuse. The flowers, in bloom in June, are very pale-purple, the cymes shortly pedunculate, approximating to a spike or raceme.
It is propagated either from seeds, sown at a similar period and in the same manner as Summer Savory, or from cuttings and divisions of root. It is woodier and more bushy than Summer Savory.
Cuttings formed of young side shoots, with a heel attached, may be taken in April or June, and will readily root under a hand-glass, or in a shady border outside.
Divisions of the roots should be made in March or April, and plants obtained in this way, or from cuttings, should be permanently inserted during a showery period in the latter part of summer, in rows, at the distance of 1 foot apart.
The plant grows better in a poor, stony soil than a rich one. In a rich soil, plants take in too much moisture to stand the severity of our winter. In soil that suits it, Winter Savory makes a good-sized shrub. It will continue for several years, but when the plants are old the shoots are short and not so well furnished with leaves. It is, therefore, well to raise a supply of young plants every other year.
In temperate climates it goes dormant in winter, putting out leaves on the bare stems again in the spring – do not cut the plant back, all those stems which appear dead will leaf out again.
It is used as a companion plant for beans, keeping bean weevils away, and also roses, reducing mildew and aphids.
The plant is harvested in the summer when in flower and can be used fresh or dried.
Properties & Uses
Rich in Calcium, Vitamin A and C, Potassium, Iron, Zinc, Selenium and Copper. Winter savory has been used for hundreds of years. Both it and summer savory have been grown and used, virtually side by side. Both have strong spicy flavour. It goes particularly well with any type of mushroom, or in white sauces, and is very good in potato salads. Small amounts spice a regular salad well. It has a rich herbaceous aroma when crushed. In cooking, winter savory has a reputation for going very well with both beans and meats, very often lighter meats such as chicken or turkey, and can be used in stuffing. It has a strong flavour while uncooked but loses much of its flavour under prolonged cooking.
Winter savory has been purported to have antiseptic, aromatic, carminative, and digestive benefits. It has also been used as an expectorant and in the treatment of stings. The plant has a stronger action than the closely related summer savory.
Taken internally, it is said to be a remedy for colic and a cure for flatulence, whilst it is also used to treat gastro-enteritis, cystitis, nausea, diarrhoea, bronchial congestion, sore throat and menstrual disorders. A sprig of the plant, rubbed onto bee or wasp stings, brings instant relief.
Therapeutic-grade oil has been determined to inhibit growth of Candida albicans.
The essential oil forms an ingredient in lotions for the scalp in cases of incipient baldness. An ointment made from the plant is used externally to relieve arthritic joints.
In traditional herbal medicine, summer savory was believed to be an aphrodisiac, while winter savory was believed to inhibit sexual desire.
See an extended PDF on this plant and subspecies here.