Herb: Winter Savory

Latin name: Satureja montana

Synonyms: Satureia montana, Satureja illyrica, Satureja obovata

Family: Labiatae

Medicinal use of Winter Savory:

Winter savory is most often used as a culinary herb, but it also has marked medicinal benefits, especially upon the whole digestive system. The plant has a stronger action than the closely related summer savory, S. hortensis. The whole herb, and especially the flowering shoots, is mildly antiseptic, aromatic, carminative, digestive, mildly expectorant and stomachic. Taken internally, it is said to be a sovereign 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. It should not be prescribed for pregnant women. A sprig of the plant, rubbed onto bee or wasp stings, brings instant relief. The plant is harvested in the summer when in flower and can be used fresh or dried. 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.

Description of the plant:


40 cm
(1 foot)

July to


Habitat of the herb:

Old walls, dry banks and rocks on hillsides, usually on calcareous soils.

Edible parts of Winter Savory:

Leaves - raw or cooked. A peppery flavour, they are used mainly as a flavouring for cooked foods, especially beans, and also as a garnish for salads etc. They have a stronger, sharper flavour than summer savory (S. hortensis). The leaves can be used fresh or dried. A herb tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves. The leaves are harvested just before the plant comes into flower. A tangy, marjoram-like flavour.

Other uses of the herb:

The growing plant repels insects. An essential oil is obtained from the leaves. Plants can be grown as a ground cover when spaced about 45cm apart each way.

Propagation of Winter Savory:

Seed - surface sow in April in a greenhouse. Do not allow the compost to dry out. Germination can be slow and erratic but usually takes place within a month. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle. It is usually possible to plant out into their permanent positions during the summer, but if the plants have not grown sufficiently, or if you live in an area of cold winters, it might be best to grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter and plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 - 8cm taken at a node, July/August in a frame. Pot up in autumn and overwinter in a frame, planting out in late spring or early summer of the following year. A high percentage usually succeed. Cuttings of young wood, preferably with a heel, April/May in a frame. Plant out in the summer if the plants grow well, otherwise overwinter them in a cold frame and plant out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Division in early spring as growth commences. This works best if soil has been mounded up into the bottom 20cm of the plant early in the previous summer. Pot up the divisions and grow them on in a cold frame until they are established. Plant them out in the summer.

Cultivation of the herb:

Old walls, dry banks and rocks on hillsides, usually on calcareous soils.

Known hazards of Satureja montana:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.