If you’re a cook, you’re likely familiar with the culinary herb known as sage (Salvia officinalis). It is an edible perennial herb in the mint family. Sage is native to the Mediterranean and it prefers full sun and soil that drains well and dries out between waterings. It is a hearty plant that is not susceptible to many pests or diseases but overwatering and soil that stays wet can lead to problems! The lavender flowers of this plant are attractive to pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. The leaves can be used as a flavoring for tea, seasoning for meat, vegetables, and in stuffing and egg dishes. It is a very versatile herb.
The genus name Salvia comes from the Latin word salveo meaning “to save or heal”, in reference to the purported medically curative properties attributed to some plants in the genus. It is a huge genus, the largest in the mint family, or Lamiaceae, with around 900 species worldwide! Salvias have been known to ward off evil, cure snake bites, increase fertility, help with skin and respiratory problems, etc. This useful herb is a great addition to any garden!
(By guest contributor: Dany Millikin, Director of Education, Houston Botanic Garden)