Common sageCommon sage
) is a small evergreen subshrub, with woody stems, grayish leaves, and blue to purplish flowers. It is native to Southern Europe
and the Mediterranean
It is much cultivated as a kitchen and medicinal herb, and is also called Garden sage, Kitchen sage, and Dalmatian sage. In southern Europe related species are sometimes cultivated for the same purpose, and may be confused with the common sage. Although this plant was the one originally called by this name sage, a number of related species are now also called by it, and are described in more detail in the article on sage.
The uses and benefits ascribed to it are many and varied, and are often shared with related species. The commonest uses made of the common sage include;
- teas and infusions, which are considered to have calming drink, and as a digestive agent
- preservative flavourings, for instance of cheese
- as a cooking flavouring, such as in sage and onion stuffing
Common sage is also grown in parts of Europe
, especially the Balkans
for distillation of the essential oil
, though other species, such as Salvia triloba
may also be harvested and distilled with it.
A number of cultivated forms of the plant exist. The majority of these are cultivated more often for ornament than for their herbal properties. All these are valuable as small ornamental flowering shrubs, and for low ground cover, especially in sunny dry situations. They are easily raised from summer cuttings.The named varieties include
- 'Purpurascens', a purple-leafed variety, considered by some to be strongest of the garden sages,
- 'Tricolor', a variety with white, yellow and green variegated leaves,
- 'Berggarten', a variety with huge leaves,
- 'Icterina', a variety with yellow-green variegated leaves,
- 'Alba', a white-flowered variety,
- 'Lavandulaefolia', a small leaved variety.
A medieval saying, sometimes attributed to Martin Luther
, is: "Cur moriatur homo cui Salvia crescit in horto?" ('Why should a man die whilst sage grows in his garden?'). To which Hildegard of Bingen
said: "Why should a man die whilst sage grows in his garden, if not because nothing can stand against death?"