Salvia is a genus in the mint family, Lamiaceae. It is one of three genera commonly referred to as Sage. When used without modifiers, sage generally refers to common sage (Salvia officinalis); however, it can be used with modifiers to refer to any member of the genus. This genus includes shrubs, herbaceous perennials, and annuals. Different species of sage are grown as herbs and as ornamental plants. The ornamental species are commonly referred to by their scientific name Salvia.

The closely related genera Perovskia and Phlomis are also known as sage; Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), native to the Crimea south to Afghanistan and Pakistan, is grown as an ornamental plant, because of its blue-violet sprays of flowers and its adaptability to either sun or part shade. It has a pleasant smell and is also grown as a bee plant, but is not consumed by humans. Jerusalem Sage refers to Phlomis fruticosa and other species of Phlomis.

Some species of the unrelated genus Artemisia are also referred to as sages, a shortened version of sagebrush, which is a more appropriate term for them. They generally taste vile and are not used in food preparation, although many of them are used medicinally. Smudge bundles are made with various grey-leaved species of Artemisia and are misrepresented as "whitesage" smudges. The true whitesage is Salvia apiana, which has a delightful scent when burned.

Description edit

Shrubs and freely branching herbs with stems that are square in cross-section, with opposite, simple leaves that lack stipules. The flowers are showy, borne in false whorls around the stem (called verticillasters), with the inflorescence overall resembling a spike. Fruit contains 4 1-seeded nutlets.

All members of the genus are glandular and emit fragrant oils.

Growing conditions edit

Rich, well-drained soils. Most species do best in full sun.

Species edit

see w:List of Salvia species

Uses edit

The sage species used as herbs come from the Mediterranean and Asia Minor. Sage has also been grown in central Europe since the Middle Ages.

The name Salvia derives from the Latin 'salveo', which means 'to heal', and the herb is highly regarded for its healing qualities. An ancient proverb states, "Why should a man die who has sage in his garden?". The ancient Greeks used it to treat tuberculosis, ulcers and snake bites.

The Ancient Romans considered sage to be a sacred herb and followed an elaborate ceremony when harvesting it. A sage gatherer would use a special knife (not made of iron as it reacts with the sage), have to have clean clothes and clean feet and a sacrifice of food would have to be made before he could begin. The Romans would use it for toothpaste; they also believed it to be good for the brain, senses and memory.

The Chinese also were quite partial to this herb. 17th century Dutch merchants found that they would trade one chest of sage leaves for three of their teas [1].

Sages are also used by several Native American cultures.

In modern gardens, sages are grown primarily as ornamental or culinary plants, for their good foliage and attractive flowers. They are also often planted to attract hummingbirds.

Maintenance edit

Deadhead to encourage repeat blooming

Propagation edit

Division, cuttings, or seed.

Pests and diseases edit

Powdery Mildew

Leaf Spots

  • Cercospora salviicola
  • Ramularia salviicola

Downy Mildew

  • Peronospora swinglei

Damping Off

Stem Rots

  • Sphaeropsis salviae



  • Puccinia caulicole
  • Puccinia farinacea
  • Puccinia salviicola











References edit

  • A Book of Salvias: Sages for Every Garden by Betsy Clebsch, Timber Press, 1997, ISBN 0-88192-369-9.
  • ITIS 32680 2002-09-06
  • Akhondzadeh S, Noroozian M, Mohammadi M. R. 2003, Salvia Officinalis extract in the treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease: A double blind and placebo-controlled trial. British Journal of Pharmacology, Vol. 140, p22P-22P, 1/2p
  • Britton, Nathaniel Lord (1913). An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States and Canada, Volume 3 (second edition ed.). Dover Publications, inc. pp. 128–131. {{cite book}}: |edition= has extra text (help); Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  • Ann Fowler Rhoads and Timothy A. Block (2000). The Plants of Pennsylvania: An Illustrated Manual. Anna Anisko, illustrator. Morris Arboretum, University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 480. {{cite book}}: Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)
  • Christopher Brickell and Judith D. Zuk (1997). The American Horticultural Society A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants. DK Publishing. pp. 926–930. {{cite book}}: Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)
  • Staff of the L. H. Bailey Hortorium (1976). Hortus Third: A Concise Dictionary of Plants Cultivated in the United States and Canada. Cornell University Press. pp. 998–1000. {{cite book}}: Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)
  • Pirone, Pascal P. (1978). Diseases & Pests of Ornamental Plants (Fifth Edition ed.). John Wiley & Sons, New York. pp. 479–480. {{cite book}}: |edition= has extra text (help); Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)
  • Cranshaw, Whitney (2004). Garden Insects of North America: The Ultimate Guide to Backyard Bugs. Princeton University Press. p. 619. {{cite book}}: Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)
  • Pippa Greenwood, Andrew Halstead, A.R. Chase, Daniel Gilrein (2000). American Horticultural Society Pests & Diseases: The Complete Guide to Preventing, Identifying, and Treating Plant Problems (First Edition ed.). Dorling Kindersley (DK) Publishing, inc. p. 201. {{cite book}}: |edition= has extra text (help); Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)