A hardy perennial, 30-60 cm (1-2 ft.) tall, it has ovate to heart-shaped, pale-green, and soft-textured leaves and inconspicuous greenish-yellow flowers in summer. Teucrium scorodonia ‘Crispum’ has attractive, curly-edged foliage.
History and traditions
A bitter-tasting herb, wood sage is one of the many plants said to have been used at one time for flavoring beer before hops became common for this purpose. One old story tells that hinds, wounded in the chase, sought it out for its healing properties. In past times it was used, like Teucrium chamaeadrys, to treat gout and rheumatism and as a poultice or lotion for “moist ulcers and sores” (Culpeper). Its specific name, scorodonia, is from a Greek word for garlic, and if the leaves are crushed, it is possible with a little imagination, to detect a faint garlic odor.
Native to Europe naturalized in many northern temperate regions. Found in dry, shady woodland areas.
It will grow in most conditions, but prefers a light, gravelly soil and partial shade.
Its herbal uses are now obsolete, but it makes an attractive traditional herb-garden plant especially the curly-leaved form.