There are plants which are so versatile that you almost dread starting a monograph on it. Nettle is such a plant and today I am writing about another plant in this category: sage, aka Salvia officinalis. Of course, it is precisely this broad spectrum which is reason to discuss sage, so I guess I’m just going to have to roll up my sleeves and give you the skinny on this fantastic plant. You probably know it from cooking. Especially since Mediterranean cuisine became popular all over the world, sage has become an indispensable part of our spice rack.
But sage’s medicinal effect is also not to be sneezed at. This plant is a powerful ally when it comes to helping the immune system fight acute threats from bacteria and viruses. It works pretty well on fungi as well. Sage tempers a fever and is your best friend when you sweat excessively. But there is even more: sage can be used for a wide range of disorders of the digestive system and gynaecological complaints of all kinds. Sage can be used externally for treating wounds and ulcers.
Sage is of course widely known for its cleansing, protective magical effect. Many people have at some point used the smoke of smouldering sage to purify a room. What not everyone knows, however, is that sage can be used magically for long-term health and healing purposes. Using sage promotes wisdom and insight and you can use the leaves to make wishes come true. Good to know: according to tradition, it is bad luck to plant sage in your garden yourself and to leave sage on its own. So it might be a good idea to ask someone to plant it for you and give the plants some green company.
Sage has a taproot. The plant branches strongly and can grow large, making it almost look like a shrub. The stem is square and ligneous towards the bottom, greyish and pannose towards the top of the plant. As said. the stems are strongly branched. The leaves are stalked and arranged decussately. They feel like felt. The leaves are elongated elliptical, reticulate and have a firm, almost leathery appearance. The colour varies from green to grey-green to almost white, depending on where on the plant the leaves are. At the bottom of the leaf we find the oil glands which cause the characteristic smell and taste of sage. The flowers are pink to purple and grow in verticillasters of 3 to 10 flowers, which are two-lipped with a two-lobed upper lip and a three-lobed lower lip. The seeds are very dark in colour and oval to round in shape.
Sage is an excellent bee plant.
Sage, like wormwood, contains thujone.
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