Sage as a Plant Teacher

Updated: Oct 16, 2021



Salvia officinalis - The Saviour Sage

Salvia is named after the Latin word, salvus, meaning wellness, and officinalis denoting a medicinal & culinary herb. Salvia officinalis is the common garden sage, and has a rich documented use throughout our ancient European history. It was once known as Salvia salvatrix, meaning the Saviour Sage, and this herb has a rich history as a natural herbal medicine.

Common Names

- Sage: meaning Salvus - wellness or Salvere - to save

- Save: To keep and store safe

- Herbe sacree: Sacred herb

- Sauge: French for sage

- Salbei: German for garden sage

- Lilifagus: Norse for 3 lobed sage

- Asfaqs: Arabic For compassion


Salvia’s history of use is literally biblical, being an agent of herbal medicine even in stories of Joseph, Mary & Jesus, some 2000 years ago. It seems that wherever you are at in life, it might be a little healthier and longer with the presence of some form of Salvia plant alongside you. Sages worldwide can often be used ubiquitously for culinary, spiritually & ritualistic purposes, though alter medicinally in components especially when it comes to the artemisias. Ancient France once grew crops of sage for trade with Chinese teas at 4 pounds of tea for 1 pound of sage. It was featured in old Roman pharmacopoeias as a healing herb, and many rulers across England & Europe sanctioned the mandatory cultivation of sage in royal gardens. Sage also has a history of use in Ayurvedic medicine.

“Dioscorides (a Greek physician) maketh but one kind of Sage, but… now are there found more kinds, the which, though they differ one from another much in roughness and smoothness, in greatness and smallness, and in diversity of colours, yet in my judgement do agree in one virtue and property.” ~ William Turner (1551)

Distribution & Physiology

Sage is a Mediterranean plant at heart, growing from the lands of Italy & the Middle East by birth, and now cultivated throughout the world as the most common sage. By the hands of Romans or monks from the Middle Ages carried as food, ornaments and medicine, it has naturalised in southern & central Europe, thriving in a climate that is dry and cool. This Salvia will not grow readily in wet or clay ridden soil, preferring the full sun of temperate conditions with low humidity. If these conditions are met, you will be blessed to witness a small shrub of around 60cm with oblong leaves rich in volatile and pungent oils. The leaves don a fine white pubescence, giving the leaf a silvery blue appearance. The flowers are delicate and small, as is the way of the Lamiaceae, former Labiatae.

Lamiaceae : Mint family : Labiatae