A shrubby, evergreen perennial, 10-30 cm (4-12 in) in height, it has creeping roots and dark-green, glossy foliage, shaped like miniature oak leaves. Tubular, rose-purple flowers are borne in dense terminal spikes.
History and traditions
Teucrium chamaedtys is said to be named after Teucer, son of Scamander, King of Troy, who, according to Greek mythology, was the first to recognize the medicinal properties of this herb. It is mentioned in the works of Discords and developed a reputation over the centuries for being an effective treatment for gout. It was also taken in powdered form for catarrh and as a herbal snuff. Germander comes from the Latin form, gamandrea, of the Greek khamaidrys, and means “ground-oak”, from khamai, on the ground, and drugs, oak, a reference to the shape of the leaves.
It is native to Europe and western Asia, widely introduced elsewhere and found in rocky areas, on old walls and in dry woodlands.
Flourishes in light, dry, stony soils. Easily propagated by semi-ripe cuttings taken in early summer. Although the branches are erect to start with, it is inclined to sprawl, especially if allowed to flower. Clip hard in late spring or early autumn to maintain a neat shape. Parts used Leaves, flowering stems.
Although it is said to have some medicinal uses and digestive properties, it may cause liver damage and is best avoided.