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Summer Savory

( Originally Published 1933 )


Labiatae Annual

The summer savory, also called Calamintha hortensis, is native to southern Europe and has escaped on poor soils in Ohio, Illinois, and Nevada. It is a dainty, spreading plant, the branches being more conspicuous than the sparse leaves. This is one of the sweet herbs and has a pleasant, spicy fragrance pleasanter than the winter savory, and better for cooking, although the other, too, is good.

Root. It has a long main root, somewhat tough and whitish.

Stem. The stems are' brown, turning yellowish, and are rounded, hairy, and twelve to eighteen inches or more high.

Leaf. The leaves are very slender, almost linear, obtuse, less than half an inch long, and soft to the touch. They taste of camphor, pepper, sweet and resinous. On drying they smell sharp, peppery, not as sweet as the basils, but very pleasant indeed.

Flower. The flowers are tiny, one-eighth of an inch long, pale pinkish-lavender, borne in loose spikes made up of whorls in the axils of the leaves, and have pale-colored stamens with deeper lavender anthers. They open one after another over a considerable period and give a fluffy, light appearance to the whole plant.

Seed. The seeds are small, deep brown, and their germinating power lasts from two to three years.


The bees like it. I put the branches in with bouquets.

Medicine. Both savories were made into teas in olden days to cure intestinal disorders, colds, and fevers.

Food. The leaves and flowering tops are put into stuffings, on salads, and boiled with peas, for stuffing sausages or a pork pie, or used as a garnish. Boulestin and Hill say it is everywhere put into broad beans (hence its German name, bohnenkraut), both in the first boiling and in the final preparation either la poulette, or au lard, when it is chopped with parsley. We use it with string beans, and it gives an indescribable aromatic taste to them.


The plants stand transplanting when they have been started indoors, but this is merely a waste of time since they come up so satisfactorily when sown out-of-doors early in May in a well-prepared soil and a sunny situation. If they are coming up too thickly they should be thinned to about six inches or a little less, apart, each way. Summer savory does not stand cutting back very well, and some people advise cutting down the whole plant at once when it is beginning to flower, and then drying the tips and leaves in the shade. Dried and pulverized, it is a delicious condiment. The seed is sold by many American seed houses.

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