why mediterranean in lower case? 

The flowering spikes of Micromeria fruticosa.

A young sprig of Micromeria fruticosa.

At a Glance



USDA: 7-10

Sécheresse: 5

well drained
rich, loamy


Micromeria fruticosa (L.) Druce 1914

mih…kr⋅r⋅roh…MEH…r⋅r⋅rih…ah  fr⋅r⋅ruh…tih…KOH…sah

Lamiaceæ Nepetoideæ Mentheæ

Has also been placed in Labiatæ

Micromeria : Greek: mikros - small; meris - part; presumably for the small plant parts • fruticosa : shrubby, bushy

white savory, tea hyssop, Turkish pennyroyal, Mediterranean rock mint, little mint, false hyssop, wild hyssop, white zota, whiteleaf savory, shrubby savory Català (Catalan): poliol blanc, poliol de roca, poliol menta, poniol Español: ajedrea blanca, aliso espinoso, poleo blanco, poleo de monte, poleo de roca Française: thym du Liban, micromérie ligneuse Italiano: issopo garganico Türk (Turkish): kaya yarpuzu, taşnane

العربية (Arabic): زعيطمان, عشب الشاي עברית (Hebrew): זוטה לבנה

Native to rocky areas along the coasts of the Mediterranean, especially Israel, Syria, Turkey, Albania, Croatia, Italy, & Spain.

Synonymy: Clinopodium fruticosum (L.) Kuntze 1891; Clinopodium serpyllifolium subsp. fruticosum (L.) Bräuchler 2006; Melissa fruticosa L. 1753 [basión.]; Micromeria marifolia (Cav.) Benth. 1834 [nom. illeg.]; Nepeta marifolia Cav. 1800; Satureja fruticosa (L.) Briq.; Satureja marifolia (Cav.) Caruel 1884 [nom. illeg.]; Thymus marifolius (Cav.) Willd. 1809

In the Eastern Mediterranean, this herb is wel known and treasured for a variety of uses - a refreshing tea, for clearing nasal congestion, for its antiseptic and insect repellent qualities, as well as a cooking spice (it is in a group of herbs used for za'tar spice).

Much research is being done of the various compunds found in this plant that show medicinal promise (e.g. reducing blood pressure), but it does contains pulegone, which should not be taken by pregnant women or those trying to conceive.

Infraspecific rankings

M. fruticosa ssp. barbata P. H. Davis 1951

M. fruticosa ssp. brachycalyx P. H. Davis 1951

M. fruticosa ssp. giresunica P. H. Davis 1980

M. fruticosa var. italica (Huter) Fen. 1973

M. fruticosa ssp. serpyllifolia (M. Bieb.) P. H. Davis 1951

Little known in the outside of its native areas and the victum of some confusion with other, similarly fragrant herbs (often used interchangeably), this easily grown handsome plant deserves attention in mediterranean climate areas.  Many thin, vertical stems create an airy shrub from 16-30in· 40-70cm.  This open habit allows the plant to weave into its neighbors, its gray-green leaves and white to pale pink flowers (in late summer & fall) combining well with many other colors and textures.

Although native to lean soils and rocky areas, it is very adaptable to heavy soils as long as they are not sodden or too rich.

Seán A. O'Hara

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Pépinière Filippi - Meze, Languedoc, France

Evergreen leaves are very aromatic, silky, silvery gray.  Masses of small white, purple-tinted flowers from July to October.  Height: 40 cm. Width: 40 cm.  Hardiness: -6 to -8°C (-10°C in very dry in winter).  Drought code: 5.  Poor soil, rocky or sandy, well drained soil.  Tolerates limestone.  Exposure: sun.  Origin: Turkey, Lebanon, Israel.  Use: large perennial border, gray garden, fragrant garden.

Richters Herb Specialists - Rosenberg, TX

Native to S.E. Europe and Western Asia, very aromatic with a fresh invigorating minty-marjoram flavor and aroma. Leaves boiled in water make a medicinal tea. Delicious as a burst of flavor in salads or on toasted bread with olive oil. Small bluish-white flowers throughout the growing season. Does well in containers or in the garden. Provide full sun and good drainage.

Calwell Nursery & Botanic Gardens - Ontario, Canada

One of the most popular tea and spice herbs of Israel and the Middle East.  Makes a refreshing sweet minty tea.  A popular bread dip is made with the leaves mixed with olive oil and salt.

In Turkey, the tea is used to treat stomach ulcers.  Contains pulegone; should not be taken by women who are pregnant or while trying to conceive.

Height: 25cm/10in.


William T Stearn. 2004. Botanical Latin. Timber Press. ISBN 0881926272 / ISBN13 9780881926279 http://gimcw.org/books/bookinfo.cfm?bookid=blwts

Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). National Plant Germplasm System. USDA Agricultural Research Service. Website http://www.ars-grin.gov/npgs/aboutgrin.html

Jo Ann Gardner. October/November 1992. Za'tar - Whatever the stuff is, it's delicious!. The Herb Companion. Website http://www.herbcompanion.com/Cooking/Zatar.aspx [accessed 29 November 2010].