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June 2011
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Satureja alpine – Acinos alpinus – also known as Rock thyme, Calamintha alpina and Thymus alpinus

This plant is an herbaceous perennial that can grow up to a height of 0.5 meters, that is, 1ft 8 inches which is between 40 and 50 centimeters. This perennial is also known as Rock Thyme, Calamintha Alpina and Thymus Alpinus. This plant has flowers that appear in whorled clusters of 3-8. The flowers are 15-20mm long and violet in color. They flower from May to August. They are small and grow in bunches. The flowers are hermaphrodite in nature. The fruit is schizocarp. These plants are native of Southern Europe.
These species are called Savories. Winter Savory and Summer Savory are among the thirty of the known species and most important. They are both annual and a perennial and can grow up to a height of 15-50cm. They are herbs and low growing in heights, being sub shrubs. Their leaves are in 1-3cm of length and bear flowers that form whorls on stems. The flowers are white to pale pink-violet. They attract larva of Lepidoptera that is butterflies and moths. Coleophora bifrondella moth and caterpillars feed on these plants especially on Winter savories.
They can be used as ornamental plants. These plants are basically used for flavoring the food. Winter savories are evergreen perennials and so always available unlike summer savories which are available only in summer. The leaves are either used dried or not dried in Italian cuisine and in mostly cooking beans. Fricot is one traditional stew which uses this seasoning as a must. The other dishes that use this herb are Sarmale, Yerba Buena etc. Yerba Buena is an herbal tea. It is used as a Diaphoretic and a febrifuge.
These plants needs full sun to partial shade and well drained soil. It needs a hardy zone of 5. The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and needs dry to moist soil.

Growing conditions of Satureja alpine:

• These plants needs full sun to partial shade and well drained soil. It needs a hardy zone of 5.
• The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils.
• This plant needs dry to moist soil.

As a perennial,
• Sow the savory outdoors every four weeks.
• The seeds should be sown on the soil surface from just after the last frost.
• Sow the seeds on the surface at the end of the spring.
• They need to be spaced at about 15cm apart.

As an annual,
• Sow the seeds indoors in pots about a month.
• Then transplant them outside after the frost of the spring.
• The seed germination needs about two week at 15-20 degrees centigrade.

Caring for Satureja alpine:
• Proper watering is required to avoid drying of soil.
• If grown indoors, six hours of sunlight is a must for the plant.
• Water only when the soil gets dried out, instead of watering regularly.
• Pinch of the tips of the young plant to ensure bushiness.
• The wood that is dead of the plant should be removed for new growth.
• Dividing plants every three years encourages new growth and vigor.
• Divide the plant in spring or in autumn.
• If stem cuttings are done for propagation, the best time is spring.

Images from plant ‘Rock Thyme’ on Google Search (link)

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