Fam. Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
Common Sauge, great sauge
In the world there are 750 species of Sage
Sage is a suffrutice, evergreen with a bushy habit.
Erect stem, 50.60 cm high, woody at the base, herbaceous and tomentose at the apex.
Leaves: opposite and petiolate at the base, sessile at the apex, oval-lanceolate, with a wedge-shaped base in the lower ones, rounded in the others; obtuse apex, serrated edge; silvery surface due to the presence of hairs.
Root: fusiform, robust, fibrous.
Flowers: tubular, blue or white-purple, in spikes of 5-10 to form terminal spikes, which appear from May to July. The flowers are typically bilabiate, the stamens are inserted at the base of the corolla and generally only 1 pair is fertile. The ovary is superior, divided into 4 lobes.
Fruits: tetrachenes that contain the tiny brown ovoid seeds
ArealNative to southern Europe, sage is widespread in temperate areas all over the world; it grows up to 750 m of altitude.
Sage prefers a soft and calcareous soil, but also adapts to an arid and stony substratum; it does not fear drought but cold and stagnant water, in the presence of which the leaves blacken.
New plants can be obtained by sowing (5-15 kg / ha), or by semi-woody cuttings taken in late spring or by division of the tufts, to be carried out in autumn. Sage requires a sunny and warm location. Sage bushes want to have some space for their roots, and if they don't have a chance to expand, the leaves become yellow. To obtain compact shrubs it is good to prune them often, but without ever touching the woody part. Excessive pruning leads to the deterioration of the tufts which are generally renewed every 4 or 5 years.
Sage can be grown in pots, as long as the soil is sandy and also in an apartment, as long as it is in a very bright position. It is very sensitive to frosts so it is good to protect it during the winter. Yield / ha: 10-20 t.
Harvest: the best time to harvest the leaves is just before flowering: drying must take place slowly and in the shade. The flowering tops are to be picked by cutting also a herbaceous portion of the stem. Conservation: the leaves and flowers are kept in hermetically sealed jars: thus they will keep their characteristics intact for about 3 years.
Drug: are the leaves and the flowering tops.
Active principles: sage essential oil, tannins, organic acids, rosmarinic acid, estrogen and bitter compounds
In phytotherapy, sage is used for its properties stimulating the functions of the intestine and gall bladder. On the respiratory system it has a balsamic and expectorant effect and is also beneficial in excesses of asthma. Other interesting properties are those of lowering blood sugar, decreasing sweating due to general weakness, acting favorably on certain ovarian disorders.
For external use, sage is antiseptic and slightly astringent. Ancient medicine has used it as a powerful healing agent on wounds and sores that are difficult to heal; the most valid domestic use is for the oral cavity and throat (soft gums and bleeding, redness and ulcers, bad breath). The most surprising effect is in the treatment of respiratory ailments: dried leaves mixed with honey or boiled in milk have an immediate effect; gargling with the infusion can fight tonsillitis.
In cosmetics: the fresh leaves rubbed on the teeth make them whiter and purify the breath. The sage decoction is used, in the rinsing phase, to maintain the color of dark hair and when tapped on the skin of the face it has a cleansing and astringent function. anti-dandruff properties, based on the stimulation of the hair papillae, it is also anti-perspiration and antiseptic. In dietetics: sage is very appreciated because it adds flavor to many dishes and digestibility to fatty meats. It is usually considered useless to mix it with other aromas, as its strongly dominant perfume cancels the others. It is also used for its antioxidant properties.
Contraindications: the essential oil or too concentrated preparations of sage internally can cause serious nervous disorders and severe poisoning.
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