Saturday, October 31, 2009

Toothed Savory - Calamintha dentata

Toothed savory (Calamintha dentata) is another member of this wonderful genus. Unlike the red basil (C. coccinea), however, this is a very rare plant reported only from 8 counties in the north-central Panhandle of Florida and from Georgia. The Georgia records are not well documented and the species is likely no longer present there. The Florida population is listed as "Threatened" by the state.

Toothed savory occurs in excessively well-drained yellow sands and fares best in full to mostly full sun. In areas where it occurs, it is fairly common. Its just that it does not find that many areas suitable...

Well-grown specimens may be several feet tall, but it is often seen at less than 18 inches. Its common and Latin names come from the small "teeth" at the edge of the leaf tip. These are not especially easy to see at first glance though as the leaves are rather small and they curl under.

Overall, this is not an especially impressive wildflower. The stems are thin and brittle, the leaves are widely spaced and tiny and, when they are crushed or brushed against, they emit a somewhat unpleasant minty fragrance. What makes this plant most notable (besides that fact that it is quite interesting) is its blooms. Like many other members of this genus, the flowers are a pale lavendar, spotted in the center, and beautiful. Although somewhat small in stature, they appear in profusion during the fall blooming season. Flowers can be found during most months between spring and late fall, but I have found the peak of blooming to occur in late summer and early fall.

Florida is blessed with a large number of interesting and beautiful wildflowers found nowhere else in the world. Many, like the toothed savory, have extremely narrow natural ranges and restricted habitat needs. We can "savor" these species in the wild and take satisfaction that there are conservation biologists and land managers working hard to preserve them. Toothed savory is not offered commercially at this time and it may never make a good choice for the home landscape.


  1. This is great! I have been searching for 2 years trying to figure out what this fragrant plant (Toothed savory) was and finally found it here.

  2. I found this blog 7/9/'22 while looking for the common name. I have loads of it growing in the sunny medows on my land, which is 100% native, minus one Cat. 2 invasive. It also grows on our private road. I protect all native plants & will eventually add those that can grow here. Thank you for this info as it has led me to your blog.

  3. Hello Craig, you are correct on every level. It grows in abundance on my land. I am selling babies as well as mother plants to Sam and Ted of Sandhills Native Nursery in Fountain.
    Didn't know until last week that I'm about two miles from them. I'm excited to work with them on this conservation project.

    Do you know how long it takes these to mature? I've never paid close attention. I'm a hands and feet off "gardener."


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