Savory: A Bit of Botany
a little botanical information on savory

Satureja hortensis, or Summer savory, is an herb of the Lamiaceae family.

Summer savory is a hardy, pubescent annual. Its erect slender stems grow to about a foot high. The plant flowers in July, producing small, pale lilac tubular flowers on short pedicels, with the common peduncle sometimes being three-flowered. Summer savory's bronze-green leaves, which are about 1/2 inch long, are entire, oblong-linear, acute, shortly narrowed at the base into petioles, and often fascicled. The short hairs on the stem are bent downwards.

common names & nomenclature
The English name savory has been influenced by (but was not derived from) the adjective savoury spicy: Middle English savery, from Latin sapor flavour via Old French sarree.

Also known as:
savory, summer savory

Savory, the sweet summer pot-herb
Savory: Where in the World
habitat and range for savory

Savory is native to the Mediterranean region but has been used across Europe, North America, and South America.

Savory: Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations on growing and harvesting savory

Summer savory grows in sunny cultivated gardens, alos can be found on dry, gravelly, or stony slopes.

Summer savory prefers a rich, light soil with plenty of moisture.

In April sow savory seed directly in the garden and only just cover. Seeds will germinate in about 2 weeks. Do not transplant savory as it strongly resents root disturbance. In areas with mild winters an autumn sowing will provide an earlier supply of leaves.

The leaves are harvested just before the plant comes into flower and may be dried for later use.

Store dried savory leaves in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Savory: The Rest of the Story
savory history, folklore, literature & more

Summer savory is a low growing annual. Winter savory is an equally diminutive perennial. Purists insist the summer herb has a sweeter, more delicate aroma; however today most cooks use them interchangeably. But this was not always the case—especially in the bedroom.

For reasons lost to history, the ancient Romans linked summer savory to the mythological satyrs—the lustful, half man, half goat creatures who threw debauched orgies in honor of Dionysus, god of wine. As a result, the Roman naturalist Pliny called summer savory an aphrodisiac and the winter herb a sex depressant. Not surprisingly, summer savory was more popular.

The Romans introduced summer savory throughout Europe, where it quickly became a popular spice. Germanic tribes loved its flavor in beans and called it bean herb. The Germanic Saxons who settled in Britain though savory made every food taste, well, savory, which is how it got its English name.

Annual summer savory reaches 18 inches. It has hairy, purplish stems, narrow, lance-shaped leaves, and small white or pink flowers, which bloom from midsummer through the first frost. Winter savory is a compact, woody, perennial bush that grows to 12 inches. Its leaves are similar to those of its summer cousin, only darker green, and its flowers, which bloom from mid to late summer, are white or lavender.

Both are easy to grow from seeds or cuttings, and both grow well in containers. Summer savory grows in most moist, well-drained soils.