Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Sage is one of those great multi purpose herbs.  My favorite use is to add it to breakfast sausage.  There are multiple cultivars of sage that you can get from any garden center.  Lemon sage, mint sage, ect.  Way to many varieties to list.  But which ever variety you pick you will find that they are very easy to grow. Sage is a perennial, evergreen subshrub, with woody stems, grayish leaves, and blue to purplish flowers. It is a member of the family Lamiaceae and is native to the Mediterranean region, though it has naturalized in many places throughout the world. It has a long history of medicinal and culinary use, and in modern times as an ornamental garden plant. The common name “sage” is also used for a number of related and unrelated species.

My single sage plant has grown huge in the last year.
My single sage plant has grown huge in the last year.

Sage is an easy herb to grow, putting up with conditions far from optimum. However, the closer you can imitate its native habitat, the happier it will be. Ideal conditions are full sun, good drainage, a soil pH of 5 to 8, and moderate fertility. You don’t want to plant it in a heavy clay soil.  The lack of drainage will water log the roots and tend to kill the plant. Mine is in a raised bed so it almost drains to well and tends to get very dry during summer months.  Luckily it loves that and grows and grows and grows.

Now some of you may be wondering what you can do with sage. Generally, it is the plain narrow-leafed varieties and the non-flowering broad-leafed varieties of sage that are used as cooking herbs. It is a common condiment for Mediterranean dishes, specifically Italian foods. It is generally used in marinades for meat, fish, pork sausage, lamb and even vegetables like peas, eggplants, lima beans and carrots. It is the perfect seasoning for poultry. Interestingly enough, sage is used in the preparation of English Sage Derby cheese and other soft cheeses. It is also used as a flavoring in certain biscuits, scones, breads and other baked foods. I should try to make a Sage Derby style cheese one of these days.

Sage herb can be used both internally and externally to counteract various health problems in humans. It curbs excessive sweating, treats depression, nervous anxiety and liver disorders and is also a great cure for several skin conditions. It is also used for treating painful jellyfish stings and spider bites. Sage herb is the perfect antiseptic wash for dirty wounds and forms a part of most concoctions that treat persistent and recurrent coughs (adding it to horehound tea works best for me). The mixture of sage, white vinegar and water forms a good astringent for oily skin. It is also one of the best herbal remedies for indigestion.

Sage is known to contain natural estrogens, and hence, is used in most homeopathic medicines that improve circulation and treat menopausal problems. It is also used to relieve suppressed menstruation problems in women, as well as in the regulation of abnormal flow. Sage acts as a central nervous system stimulant and is also used in the treatment of varicose veins. This herb is also used in gargling solutions used to ease laryngitis and tonsillitis. The July 2003 issue of the ‘Pharmacological Biochemical Behavior’ claims that sage has the power to improve memory. Sage is an all-in-one herb. It is also an antifungal antiseptic. This estrogenic agent works miracles in women. It is also a hypoglycemic astringent and is a good antispasmodic agent. Sage is one of those herbs that tastes great and is very good for you.

My sage plant blooming in late May
My sage plant blooming in late May




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