Sage (Salvia officinalis) is a small evergreen shrub, which belongs to the Lamiaceae family. Although it can be seen everywhere in the world, sage is native to the Mediterranean region. It has been used for centuries in medicine and in cookery.
There are many varieties of sage with different sizes, shapes and colors of leaves.
The most known sage grows to about 23 inch high and extends about 19 inch wide.
The leaves are elongated and slightly pointed at the tip. They reach sizes of 2 inch long and 0.6 inch wide. They have a gray-green color and are rough on the top side. The bottom side is nearly white. There are also varieties of sage with other colors for the leaves: purple, cream, reddish or yellowish.
The flowers appear in spring and are generally very similar to lavender flowers. They grow all around a high rod.
History Sage Herb Seeds
Salvia officinalis was described by Carl Linnaeus in 1753. Sage is grown for centuries and known for its flavor but also for its medicinal properties. The name officinalis refers to the medical use of the plant. Officina was the name of a room in monasteries where they stored drugs and herbal medicines.
Sage was used for centuries by people to protect them from evil and snake bites, but also to increase fertility in women.
Theophrastus wrote about two different species of sage, a wild bush that he called “sphakos” and another similar species, cultivated, which he called “elelisphakos”. The plant was later called “saved” by the Romans. It was used for its diuretic properties, as a local anesthetic to the skin, astringent etc.
In the Middle Ages and during the Carolingian Empire, sage was intensely cultivated in the gardens of monasteries. Walafrid Strabo described it in his poems as having a bland flavor and said that it was useful in preparing foods.
Gardeners grow sage for two purposes: as an ornamental plant or to use it with other herbs in the preparation of various dishes.
Planting herb seeds directly in the soil or seedbeds can be done in early spring. The seedlings should be planted in the garden in late spring, 1 inch deep and about 15 inches distance between plants.
Sage needs a well-drained ground. Excess water can cause yellowing of the leaves. Also during the summer, take care that the soil is permanently wet. Sage should be planted in sunny locations.
Sage has a slightly sweet and peppery flavor. In Western Europe it is used to flavor roasts, served with some cheese, garnish different vegetables and for preparing sauces. Sage is also extensively used in Italian and Middle East cuisine.
It has been recommended as a medicinal plant since ancient times. Recent studies have shown that sage can be used in the preparation of antibiotics. It also has antifungal, tonic, astringent properties, and is a good hypoglycemic.
Sage is grown in some parts of Europe for extracting essential oil.