Teucrium chamaedrys, commonly known as wall germander, or germander, is an evergreen, perennial flowering plant native to the Mediterranean region of North Africa, Middle East, and Europe. This aromatic plant is a close relative of wood sage and a member of the mint family belonging to the teucrium genus. Germander was brought to North America by colonialists and spread to other regions of the world due to its medicinal properties.
[Disclaimer: Chronic ingestion of germander has been linked to cases of liver injury. In addition, The Right Flowers is not a medical site. Knowledge of and information about the therapeutic benefits and applications of flowers, while known through the ages, does not constitute medical advice. If you are having health issues, you should consult with a physician.]
The plant prefers mildly sandy or loamy, well-drained soils. It can grow in full sun or partial shade. Germander’s leaves have a strong aroma similar to garlic when bruised. In late spring and summer, the plant produces small, white to pale pink or purple flowers.
The name germander is believed to be derived from the word chamaedrys, meaning ground oak in Greek. The plant was so named because the leaves look like those of an oak tree.
Historically, germander has been cultivated for medicinal purposes due to its bitter, aromatic taste and for aesthetic reasons due to its clean, and attractive flowers. The plant’s aerial parts have medicinal qualities that treat inflammatory conditions including gout, fever, and digestive problems. King Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor is said to have been successfully cured of gout after using wall germander extracts for 60 days. During the 1980s, wall germander extracts were marketed in capsules for cholesterol management and weight loss but were later discouraged due to the risk of hepatoxicity owing to unsupervised and long term use.
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During the first century, Dioscorides, the renowned Greek physician, and botanist recommended wall germander for coughs, urinary tract problems, and dropsy. He also prescribed it for snake bites, eye problems, muscle pain, and cramps.
Basically, the whole plant contains astringent, antirheumatic, carminative, aromatic, aperient, diaphoretic, bitter and diuretic properties. Though the entire plant has medicinal properties, it is the aerial parts of germander, especially the flowers and leaves that are used to make herbal remedies including infusions for treating minor wounds and healing bleeding gums.
Apart from its medicinal purposes, wall germander is used in the alcoholic industry due to its bitter taste. The bitter flavor is considered ideal for making beverages that promote effective digestion.
Wall germander is clearly a high-value plant not only for the cut flower industry due to its beautiful blossoms but also for the herbal and culinary fields.