Sage

Salvia officinalis
Mint family (Lamiaceae)


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Salvia officinalis, the common sage or just sage, is a perennial, evergreen subshrub, with woody stems, grayish leaves, and blue to purplish flowers. It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae and native to the Mediterranean region, though it has been naturalized in many places throughout the world. It has a long history of medicinal and culinary use, and in modern times it has been used as an ornamental garden plant. The common name "sage" is also used for closely related species and cultivars.

Names

Salvia officinalis has numerous common names. Some of the best-known are sage, common sage, garden sage, golden sage, kitchen sage, true sage, culinary sage, Dalmatian sage, and broadleaf sage. Cultivated forms include purple sage and red sage. The specific epithet officinalis refers to plants with a well-established medicinal or culinary value.

Taxonomy

Salvia officinalis was described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753. It has been grown for centuries in the Old World for its food and healing properties, and was often described in old herbals for the many miraculous properties attributed to it. The binary name, officinalis, refers to the plant's medicinal use—the officina was the traditional storeroom of a monastery where herbs and medicines were stored. S. officinalis has been classified under many other scientific names over the years, including six different names since 1940 alone. It is the type species for the genus Salvia.

Description

Cultivars are quite variable in size, leaf and flower color, and foliage pattern, with many variegated leaf types. The Old World type grows to approximately 60 cm (2 ft) tall and wide, with lavender flowers most common, though they can also be white, pink, or purple. The plant flowers in late spring or summer. The leaves are oblong, ranging in size up to 65 mm (2+12 in) long by 25 mm (1 in) wide. Leaves are grey-green, rugose on the upper side, and nearly white underneath due to the many short soft hairs. Modern cultivars include leaves with purple, rose, cream, and yellow in many variegated combinations.

History

Salvia officinalis has been used since ancient times for warding off evil, snakebites, increasing women's fertility, and more. The Romans referred to sage as the "holy herb," and employed it in their religious rituals. Theophrastus wrote about two different sages, a wild undershrub he called sphakos, and a similar cultivated plant he called elelisphakos. Pliny the Elder said the latter plant was called salvia by the Romans, and used as a diuretic, a local anesthetic for the skin, a styptic, and for other uses. Charlemagne recommended the plant for cultivation in the early Middle Ages, and during the Carolingian Empire, it was cultivated in monastery gardens. Walafrid Strabo described it in his poem Hortulus as having a sweet scent and being useful for many human ailments—he went back to the Greek root for the name and called it lelifagus.

The plant had a high reputation throughout the Middle Ages, with many sayings referring to its healing properties and value. It was sometimes called S. salvatrix (sage the savior). Dioscorides, Pliny, and Galen all recommended sage as a diuretic, hemostatic, emmenagogue, and tonic.Le Menagier de Paris, in addition to recommending cold sage soup and sage sauce for poultry, recommends infusion of sage for washing hands at table. John Gerard's Herball (1597) states that sage "is singularly good for the head and brain, it quickeneth the senses and memory, strengtheneth the sinews, restoreth health to those that have the palsy, and taketh away shakey trembling of the members." Gervase Markham's The English Huswife (1615) gives a recipe for a tooth-powder of sage and salt. It appears in recipes for Four Thieves Vinegar, a blend of herbs which was supposed to ward off the plague. In past centuries, it was also used for hair care, insect bites and wasp stings, nervous conditions, mental conditions, oral preparations for inflammation of the mouth, tongue and throat, and also to reduce fevers.

Uses

Culinary use

In Britain, sage has for generations been listed as one of the essential herbs, along with parsley, rosemary, and thyme (as in the folk song "Scarborough Fair"). It has a savory, slightly peppery flavor. Sage appears in the 14th and 15th centuries in a "Cold Sage Sauce", known in French, English and Lombard cuisine, probably traceable to its appearance in Le Viandier de Taillevent. It appears in many European cuisines, notably Italian, Balkan and Middle Eastern cookery. In Italian cuisine, it is an essential condiment for saltimbocca and other dishes, favored with fish. In British and American cooking, it is traditionally served as sage and onion stuffing, an accompaniment to roast turkey or chicken at Christmas or Thanksgiving Day, and for Sunday roast dinners. Other dishes include pork casserole, Sage Derby cheese and Lincolnshire sausages. Despite the common use of traditional and available herbs in French cuisine, sage never found favor there.

Essential oil

Common sage is grown in parts of Europe for distillation of an essential oil, although other species such as Salvia fruticosa may also be harvested and distilled with it.

Research

Extracts of Salvia officinalis and S. lavandulaefolia are under preliminary research for their potential effects on human brain function. The thujone present in Salvia extracts may be neurotoxic.

Cultivars

In favourable conditions in the garden, S. officinalis can grow to a substantial size (1 square metre or more), but a number of cultivars are more compact. As such they are valued as small ornamental flowering shrubs, rather than for their herbal properties. Some provide low ground cover, especially in sunny dry environments. Like many herbs they can be killed by a cold wet winter, especially if the soil is not well drained. But they are easily propagated from summer cuttings, and some cultivars are produced from seeds.

Named cultivars include:

  • 'Alba', a white-flowered cultivar
  • 'Aurea', golden sage
  • 'Berggarten', a cultivar with large leaves, which rarely blooms, extending the useful life of the leaves
  • 'Extrakta', has leaves with higher oil concentrations
  • 'Icterina', a cultivar with yellow-green variegated leaves
  • 'Lavandulaefolia', a small leaved cultivar
  • 'Purpurascens' ('Purpurea'), a purple-leafed cultivar
  • 'Tricolor', a cultivar with white, purple and green variegated leaves

'Icterina' and 'Purpurascens' have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

Species

  • Salvia apiana
    • White sage (Salvia apiana)
  • Salvia argentea
    • Silver sage (Salvia argentea)
  • Salvia azurea
    • Azure blue sage Blue sage or Prairie sage (Salvia azurea)
  • Salvia cacaliifolia
    • Blue vining sage or Guatemalan sage (Salvia cacaliifolia)
  • Salvia candelabrum
    • Candelabra sage or Candelabrum sage (Salvia candelabrum)
  • Salvia coccinea
    • Scarlet sage or ("Scarlet's red sage") (Salvia coccinea)
    • Scarlet red sage or Scarlet sage (Salvia coccinea)
  • Salvia curticalyx
    • Salvia curticalyx (Salvia curticalyx)
  • Salvia divinorum
    • Sage 'Flare' 'Flare' (Salvia divinorum)
    • Sage drug (Salvia divinorum)
    • Sage sage (Salvia divinorum)
    • Shaman sage (Salvia divinorum)
  • Salvia dorisiana
    • Apple sage (Salvia dorisiana)
  • Salvia elegans
    • Apple sage (Salvia elegans)
    • Honeymelon sage (Salvia elegans)
    • Mandarin sage (Salvia elegans)
    • Melon sage (Salvia elegans)
    • Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans)
    • Tangerine sage, Scarlet Tangerine' (Salvia elegans) or Scarlet Tangerine sage or Sage Red Tangerine ("Salvia Scarlet Tangerine") (Salvia elegans)
  • Salvia engelmannii
    • Engelmann sage (Salvia engelmannii)
  • Salvia farinacea
    • Garden Sage (Salvia farinacea)
  • Salvia fruticosa
    • Greek sage (Salvia fruticosa)
    • Three-lobed sage (Salvia fruticosa)
  • Salvia fulgens
    • Cardinal sage (Salvia fulgens)
    • Mexican scarlet sage or Mexican scarlet red sage or Mexican scarlet red sage (Salvia fulgens)
  • Salvia chamaedryoides
    • Germander sage (Salvia chamaedryoides)
  • Salvia glutinosa
    • Sticky sage (Salvia glutinosa)
  • Salvia grahamii
  • Salvia greggii
    • Autumn sage or Autumns sage (Salvia greggii)
    • Peach sage (Salvia greggii)
  • Salvie guaranitica
    • Bule sage (Salvia guaranitica)
    • Black sage (Salvia guaranitica)
  • Salvia hispanica
    • Chia sage (Salvia hispanica) - Chia
  • Salvia horminum
  • Salvia involucrata
    • Rose petal sage (Salvia involucrata)
  • Salvia jurisicii
    • Juridical sage or Yugoslav rock sage, locally as Ovche Pole sage (Salvia jurisicii)
  • Salvia leucantha
    • Mexican sage (Salvia leucantha)
    • Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha)
  • Salvia leucophylla
    • Purple sage (Salvia leucophylla)
  • Salvia lyrata
    • Lime leaf sage (Salvia lyrata)
    • Lyreleaf sage (Salvia lyrata)
    • Wild sage (Salvia lyrata)
  • Salvia microphylla
    • Blackcurrant sage (Salvia microphylla), (syn. Salvia grahamii)
    • Baby sage (Salvia microphylla)
    • Graham's sage (Salvia microphylla)
  • Salvia miltiorrhiza
    • Chinese sage or tan shen or danshen (Salvia miltiorrhiza)
    • Red sage (Salvia miltiorrhiza)
  • Salvia nemorosa
    • Baltic meadow sage or Balkan clary (Salvia nemorosa)
    • Forest sage or Woodland sage (Salvia nemorosa)
    • Salvie nemorosa (Salvia nemorosa)
  • Salvia officinalis
    • Big-leaved sage (Salvia officinalis)
    • Broad-leaved sage (Salvia officinalis)
    • Common sage (Salvia officinalis)
    • Culinary sage (Salvia officinalis)
    • Medical sage (Salvia officinalis)
  • Salvia patens
    • Blue sage (Salvia patens)
  • Salvia pratensis
    • Meadow Sage (Salvia pratensis)
  • Salvia rosmarinus
    • Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus)
  • Salvia sclarea
    • Mottled sage or Moscatel-Sage and Scarlet Sage (Salvia sclarea)
  • Salvia spathacea
    • Hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea)
    • Californian hummingbird sage (Salvia spathacea)
    • Pitch sage (Salvia spathacea)
  • Salvia splendens
    • Tropical sage (Salvia splendens)
  • Salvia splendor
    • Tropical sage (Salvia splendor)
  • Salvia verbenaca
    • Wild meadow salvia Clary or Wild Clary (Salvia verbenaca)
  • Salvia verticillata
    • Wreath sage (Salvia verticillata)

Hybrids

  • Sage. longispicata × Sage. farinacea (“Hybrid”)
  • Sage. fruticosa × Sage. tomentosa (“Hybrid”)
  • Sage. officinalis × Sage. lavandulifolia (“Hybrid”)
  • Sage Amistad shrub, upright perennial, deep blue/purple flowers (“Hybrid”)
  • Salvie Dyson's Joy “Salvie Dyson's Joy”, small, bushy perennial, multi-colored red / pink flowers (“Hybrid”)
  • Sage Hot Lips shrub evergreen, “evergreen” red and white flowers, red/white flowers (“Hybrid”)
  • Sage Jezebel shrub evergreen perennial, “evergreen perennial” red flowers (“Hybrid”)
  • Salvie Nachtvlinder shrub evergreen, “evergreen” perennial, purple flowers (“Hybrid”)
  • Sage Ribambelle bushy perennial, salmon-colored “salmon-colored” flowers (“Hybrid”)
  • Sage Royal Bumble evergreen “evergreen” shrub, red flowers (“Hybrid”)
  • Sage. × Jamensis Javier shrub, perennial, purple flowers (“Hybrid”)
  • Sage. × Jamensis Los Lirios shrub, pink flowers (“Hybrid”)
  • Sage. × Jamensis Peter Vidgeon shrub, perennial, light pink “light pink” flowers (“Hybrid”)
  • Sage. × Jamensis Raspberry Royale evergreen, subshrub, raspberry pink flowers (“Hybrid”)
  • Sage. × Superba Rubin clump-forming, perennial, pink flowers (“Hybrid”)
  • Sage. × Sylvestris Blauhügel herbaceous, perennial, violet-blue flowers (“Hybrid”)
  • Sage. × Sylvestris Mainacht perennial, deep violet flowers (“Hybrid”)
  • Sage. × Sylvestris Tänzerin perennial, purple flowers (“Hybrid”)
  • Salvia × sylvestris (Salvia × sylvestris) (“Hybrid”)
  • Salvia 'Indigo Spiers (Salvia. longispicata × Salvia. farinacea) (“Hybrid”)
  • Sage Mystic Spiers Blue, Salvia Mystic Spires Blue, Sage mystic Spiers Blue or Sage mystic Spiers Blue, Salvia x Mystic Spires, Mystic Spires Blue Salvia, Salvia 'Mystic Spires Blue' (Sage. longispicata × Sage. farinacea) (“Hybrid”)
  • Salvia Mystic Spires
  • Perennial sage (Salvia x superba) ("Hybrid")
  • Salvia × superba (Salvia × superba) (Salvia guaranitica) (“Hybrid“)
  • Salvia x hybrida 'Amistad', Salvia Amistad (Salvia 'Amistad') (“Hybrid“)
  • Salvia x 'Love and Wishes', Saliva sage 'Kisses and Wishes' (Salvia 'Love And Wishes') (Love and Wishes Sage) type Perennial (“Hybrid“)
  • Salvia 'Oceana Blue'
  • Salvia 'Strawberry Lake'
  • Raspberry Delight Salvia (“Hybrid“)
  • Salvia x 'Raspberry Truffle', (Raspberry Truffle Sage) Hybrid sages with Big Mexican Scarlet Sage parentage, (Salvia x "Raspberry Truffle') (Salvia gesnerifolia) (“Hybrid“)
  • Salvia splendens 'Sao Borja' (Sao Borja Scarlet Sage)
  • Salvia 'Black Knight', Salvia, Common Sage Salvia 'Black Knight' (Salvia guaranitica)
  • Sage (salvia 'indigo Spires') Indigo Spires' sage, SALVIA L. indigo spires

See also

  • Salvia
  • List of Salvia species

References

External links

  • Salvia officinalis Israel Native Plants
  • "Salvia officinalis". Plants for a Future.
  • Salviae officinalis folium, European Medicines Agency

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