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Satureja montana0.jpg
Winter savory, Satureja montana
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Satureja
Tourn. ex Mill.

About 30, see text

Satureja is a genus of aromatic plants of the family Lamiaceae, related to rosemary and thyme. There are about 30 species called savories, of which summer savory and winter savory are the most important in cultivation.[citation needed]


Satureja species are native to warm temperate regions and may be annual or perennial. They are low-growing herbs and subshrubs, reaching heights of 15–50 cm.

The leaves are 1 to 3 cm long, with flowers forming in whorls on the stem, white to pale pink-violet.

Ecology and cultivation[edit]

Satureja species are food plants for the larva of some Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths). Caterpillars of the moth Coleophora bifrondella feed exclusively on winter savory (S. montana).

Savory may be grown purely for ornamental purposes; members of the genus need sun and well-drained soil.


Dried summer savory leaves

Both summer savory and winter savory are used to flavor food. The former is preferred by cooks but as an annual is only available in summer; winter savory is an evergreen perennial.

Savory plays an important part in Bulgarian and Italian cuisine, particularly when cooking beans. It is also used to season the traditional Acadian stew known as fricot. Savory is also a key ingredient in sarmale, a stuffed cabbage dish in traditional Romanian cuisine. The modern spice mixture Herbes de Provence has savory as one of the principal ingredients.

Yerba buena (Spanish: "good herb"; Satureja douglasii) is used to make a herbal tea in the western United States. In Azerbaijan, savory is often incorporated as a flavoring in black tea.

Selected species[edit]

Formerly in Satureja[edit]


The etymology of the Latin word 'satureia' is unclear. Speculation that it is related to saturare,[1] to satyr,[1] or to za'atar[2] is not well supported. The ancient Hebrew name is ṣathrá צתרה.


  1. ^ a b F. E. J. Valpy, An Etymological Dictionary of the Latin Language, 1828, p. 542.
  2. ^ Arthur O. Tucker, Thomas DeBaggio, The encyclopedia of herbs: a comprehensive reference to herb