Sage (Salvia Officinalis)

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Salvia Officinalis

Sage (Salvia Officinalis) has a long history of medicinal and culinary uses. Sage is closely related to Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinalis) so they are often considered as sister herbs. Salvia Officinalis is often known as  ‘common sage‘ or  ‘garden sage‘. But one should not get confused between sage and clary sage (Salvia Sclarea). Both the herbs belong to same family but are different from each other. Sage has a strong aroma and spicy flavor while clary sage is sweet in flavor and nutty in aroma.

The plant has a high reputation throughout the Middle Ages, and is referred many times due to its healing properties and value. It was sometimes called  Salvia salvatrix  (sage the savior) because it was one of the main ingredients of “ Four Thieves Vinegar”, a blend of herbs which was supposed to ward off the plague.

Sage or Salvia Officinalis Varieties

This species has several varieties which are widely available in nurseries, either with herbs or with the flowering perennials.

  • ‘Aurea’ has Golden Yellow Leaves
  • ‘Crispa’ has Finely Curled Foliage
  • ‘Tricolor’ has Purple, Pink and White Patterned Leaves
  • ‘Beergarten’ has Broad Oval Leaves instead of the typical narrow shape

Scientific Classification

Kingdom – Plantae
Subkingdom – Tracheobionta (Vascular Plant)
Super division – Spermatophyta (Seed Plant)
Division – Magnoliophyta (Flowering Plant)
Class – Magnolipsida (Dicotyledons)
Subclass – Asteridae
Order – Lamiales
Family – Lamiaceae (Mint Family)

Genus – Salvia

Species – Officinalis

Scientific Name : Salvia Officinalis


Botanical Description

Salvia officinalis is a evergreen shrub with woody stems. It is a member of mint family and an ornamental garden plant of modern times. Cultivars are quite variable in size, leaf and flower color, and foliage pattern, and have many variegated leaf types. The wild type of sage grows approximately 2 ft (0.61 m) tall and wide, with blue flowers, its flowers can also be white, pink, or purple. This plant blooms in late spring or summer. The leaves are oblong, ranging in size up to 2.5 inches (6.4 cm) long and 1 inch(2.5 cm) wide.Its Leaves are grey-green, rugose in color on the upper side, and nearly white underneath due to the presence of many short soft hairs. Modern cultivars also have leaves with purple, rose, cream, and yellow color with many variegated combinations.

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Origin and Distribution of Sage

Sage is a native plant of Mediterranean region and Europe but it is now grown in almost every part of world.

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Favorable Conditions for Growing Sage

  • Soil: Sage grows in well-drained, sandy, loamy soil.Don’t  over-fertilize the plant as it over-fertilizing might make the plant grow a little faster, but its flavor will be less intense.
  • Sun: Plant sage in medium to full sun-lit area. If you are growing sage indoors, place your pot near a sunny window.
  • Water: Sage is a drought-tolerant herb so even when the leaves look wilted, a little water perks up the entire plant, right up. Wait for sometime until the soil is dry enough to give it a thorough watering.
  • Spacing: Sage grows in bush-like fashion, its plants should be spaced 24″ to 36″ apart.
  • Companion planting: Plant sage near any plant because this beautiful blossom attracts pollinators.

Sage can be planted alongside tomatoes, carrots, cabbage and strawberries.

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