Salvia officinalis L.
Family : Labiatae
Sage (Salvia officinalis),
a shrubby perennial herb of the mint, is native to southern European
countries and is widely cultivated in gardens in most parts of the
world. Sage was used by the ancient Greek and Romans as a medicinal
herb. In the Middle Ages it was used to treat many diseases. Colonial
Americans used sage both medicinally and as a culinary herb very
Sage is a variable evergreen perennial
shrub, with strong taproot and square woody, branching stems. The
plants grow to a height of about 2 feet and generally do not bloom
until the second season. Whorls of violet-blue flowers appear in
spikes in summer. The plant has large, finely toothed, elliptical
leaves, ranging from 5 to 7 cm long. They are silver-grey to green
velvety, or hairy to the touch.
Propagation may be from seeds, stem
cuttings, or crown divisions. Seeds should be planted in a coldframe,
window box, or prepared seedbed and the young plants transplanted
when 2 or 3 inches high. Plants grown from seed are generally of
mixed types; for this reason propagation by cuttings made from desirable
plants or by layering is preferred. To induce bushy growth points
of shoots are nipped off and this is renewed every 4-5 years as
shrubs become leggy. Six to eight inches of the top growth can be
cut from the plant about twice during the season. The leaves should
be harvested before the plant blooms.
The tops may be tied in small bundles
or spread on screens and dried in a well-ventilated room away from
direct sunlight. If the leaves are dusty or gritty, they should
be washed in cold water before drying. When they are thoroughly
dry remove the stems and pack the clean dry leaves in paper bags
or some other closed container.
Sage contains about 1.5-2.5% volatile
oil. Major components are thujone, borneol and cineole. It is available
as an essential oil and oleoresin. The oleoresin contains 30 - 35%
Sage is a very popular herb generally
used as a potent condiment for meat, fish, Mediterranean dishes,
and as a base for sage tea. The powdered leaves rubbed on the outside
of fresh pork, ham, and loin gives a flavor resembling that of stuffed
turkey. The major flavour component of fresh pork sausage seasoning
is sage. The extractives of sage are also utilized primarily in
the processed meat industry.
Medicinal and other use
Sage is also known to have antioxidant
and antimicrobial activity. Sage infusion is used to treat depression,
nervous anxiety and liver disorders. Homeopathic preparations with
it are given for circulation and menopausal problems. Leaves are
also antiseptic, used in gargles for laryngitis and tonsilitis.
They are good as a mouth freshner and tooth cleanser. Essential
oil is used in perfumery.