Sage - Salvia officinalis or common sage (Labiatae - Lamiaceae family)

Characteristics and uses:

Sage is used for a number of related and unrelated species: it is a perennial evergreen, drought-tolerant subshrub, with grayish leaves, white, blue to purplish flowers and woody stems, native to the Mediterranean region. It grows well in medium to full sun. Sage's pronounced pine-like aroma capitalizes on one of the most sense: smell. The International Herb Association awarded sage the title of "Herb of the Year" in 2001. It has one of the longest history of use of any medicinal or culinary herb, and, more recently, as an ornamental garden plant. Gardeners enjoy its velvety, evergreen foliage, and delicate blooms. Fresh, dried or powdered sage is used in holiday recipes, as well as to accent pork, sausage, stuffing, poultry (it is an essential ingredient in seasoning and dressing Thanksgiving turkey), and vegetables. Sage contains a variety of volatile oils, flavonoids and phenolic acids. It is also an excellent source of vitamin K and A.


From vulgar Latin "sapius" and "sapere" (to taste, and to be wise, to discern). The specific epithet "officinalis" refers to the plant's medicinal use (from "officina", the traditional storeroom of a monastery where herbs and medicine were stored).

Other uses:

Common sage is grown in Europe for distillation of an essential oil , which contains cineole, borneol and thujone. A number of double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized studies have demonstrate improved memory, attention function and alertness.

History and folklore:

Described by Carl Linnaeus in 1751, and in old herbals for the many miraculous properties attributed to it, it has been grown for centuries in the Old World for its food and healing properties. Egyptians used it as a fertility drug. Sage has been used since ancient times for warding off evil, increasing women's fertility, against snakebites, and much more: throughout the Middles Ages, the plant had a high reputation. In Britain sage has for generations been listed as one of the essential herbs, along with rosemary, parsley and thyme. In the language of flowers it means long life, health, esteem, but also wisdom.

***** Erbe Matte cannot take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally. *****

***** We carefully dry sage leaves when they are crisp. *****

In Italian cuisine it is an essential condiment for saltimbocca, and many other dishes. In American cooking it is traditionally served on Thanksgiving Day, as accompaniment to roast turkey.