Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Yerbabuena - Satureja douglasii

Yerbabuena. This amazing little plant is probably one of my favorites. It's native along the coast from British Columbia to Baja California. It looks great in shady areas of the garden and will trail out of pots or over things, rerooting as it goes. It has tiny white flowers and a great scent. Though not a true mint it can be used in much the same way. I make a tea out of it. Supposedly, it can also be used medicinally, good for the stomach like mint. And Bay Natives and Bee Vision Blog have some other uses.

It comes from the Spanish hierba buena, meaning good herb, a general term used throughout the Spanish-speaking world for local mint varieties. It was evidently very common here in the Bay Area as the original name for the town of San Francisco was Yerbabuena. Later the town's name was changed in honor of the mission. Now it's the name of the island that splits the Bay Bridge in two and a center for the arts in San Francisco.

I've known it as Satureja douglasii, but I'm also finding it under Clinopodium douglasii. Anyone know which it is?


  1. I've never heard of the second name. I haven't made the tea yet, but sometimes I crunch a leaf in my mouth and spit it out. The flavor lingers for a long time.

  2. I only know it as Satureja douglasii. I like to chew on a leaf for the lingering flavor too. I can never grow enough to make a proper tea, so far. I really like the fragrance.