HerbsEdible Plants

What Are the Types of Sage?

Sage leaves

Sage comes in several varieties beyond the standard sage most are familiar with.

Each type has a unique flavor profile suited to different uses.

Learning about the key traits of different sage plants can help you decide what to include in your outdoor spaces.

So, if you’re curious about the different kinds of sage but need help figuring out where to start, this article will give you a basic overview of some common sage varieties and how they’re used.

What Is Sage?

Sage is a perennial plant native to the Mediterranean region.

There are around 900 different salvia species, which is the botanical name for sage.

The most commonly grown sage for culinary and medicinal use is Salvia officinalis, known as common or garden sage.

The Word “Sage”

The word “sage” is derived from the Latin word “salvere,” meaning “to save,” reflecting its reputation for having healing and therapeutic properties.

Common sage grows as a shrubby herbaceous plant, reaching two feet tall and wide, with woody stems and grayish leaves with a peppery flavor and aromatic scent when crushed.

The plant produces small purple to blue flowers in spring and summer. Sage thrives in well-draining soil in full sun. It is hardy in zones 5-9. 

Beyond its well-known culinary applications, sage has a long history of medicinal and therapeutic uses.

It contains anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants that may help relieve inflammation, ease digestive issues, and improve brain function.

When inhaled, Sage essential oil is often used in aromatherapy to relieve stress and anxiety.

In the garden, common sage makes an attractive, low-maintenance addition. Its gray foliage pairs well in herb gardens, rock gardens, or edging walks.

Sage deters ants, mosquitos, and other insects when grown near pathways or outdoor seating areas.

Culinary sage varieties are commonly used to flavor poultry, pork, stuffing, salad dressings, and more.

Sage also adds flavor to vinegar and infusion in oils for cooking. Its sharp aroma and flavor profile make it a Mediterranean cuisine staple herb.

Different Types of Sage

Here’s a rundown of some fascinating types of sage you might not have realized existed.

Type #1: Common Sage

Common sage
Source: Wikimedia

Common sage, also known as garden sage or culinary sage, is the most prevalent variety of sage.

With woody gray-green stems and soft aromatic leaves, common sage grows as a shrubby herbaceous plant up to two feet tall.

It is widely used to flavor foods like stuffing, roast meats, and poultry.

Type #2: Pineapple Sage

Flowering pineapple sage
Source: Wikimedia

Pineapple sage has a refreshing pineapple-citrus scent and is grown as much for its vivid colors as for its culinary uses.

Producing erect stalks of scarlet flowers in fall, pineapple sage stands out in the garden with its tropical look.

While less common than other sages, pineapple sage can be brewed as tea or used for simple syrups for cocktails and desserts due to its fruity flavor.

Type #3: White Sage

White sage
Source: Wikimedia

White sage, with the scientific name Salvia apiana, is a fast-growing softwood perennial native to California.

Characterized by its white-gray stems and furry white leaves, white sage emits a fragrant aroma when its leaves are crushed.

White sage is also burned by some Native American cultures for cleansing and protection during spiritual ceremonies.

Type #4: Clary Sage

Salvia sclarea
Source: Wikimedia

Clary sage is a hardy perennial herb with fragrant gray-green leaves and small pink or white spikes.

Native to Mediterranean regions, clary sage emits a sweet, herbaceous scent when its leaves are rubbed.

Used medicinally to relieve stress and menstrual cramps, clary sage is also grown for its calming essential oil, extracted from the plant’s foliage.

Type #5: Russian Sage

Russian sage
Source: Wikimedia

Russian sage is a showy herbaceous perennial valued as much for its ornate flowers as its gray, hairy leaves emitting light sage-like fragrances.

Plumes of lavender flowers bloom atop reddish stems from summer into fall, attracting butterflies.

Russian sage thrives in full sun and soils with dry or average moisture, making it an easy-to-grow ornamental plant.

Type #6: Scarlet Sage

Scarlet sage
Source: Wikimedia

Scarlet sage is a beautiful annual grown as much for its dazzling red flower spikes as its textured leaves.

Producing striking scarlet blooms in summer that attract hummingbirds, scarlet sage varieties like ‘Graham Thomas’ are valued for brightening gardens, borders, or containers.

Type #7: Greek Sage

Salvia fruticosa
Source: Wikimedia

Greek sage, or Salvia fruticosa, forms a bushy evergreen shrub prized for its ornamental value and traditional medicinal uses.

Native to the Mediterranean, Greek sage has small gray-green leaves and spikes of vivid blue or white flowers throughout summer.

The plant can be used for aromatherapy and making herbal teas for cold or flu symptom relief.

Type #8: Golden Sage

Golden sage
Source: Wikimedia

Golden sage is a colorful variation prized for its bright yellow-tinged foliage. Forming a bushy evergreen perennial, golden sage features woolly gray-green leaves streaked or edged in golden yellow hues.

Valued as a showy landscape plant, it also offers a unique color variant with a similar aromatic profile for culinary or medicinal uses as common sage.

Conclusion

From culinary varieties like classic garden sage to showy ornamentals like pineapple sage, the types discussed offer an array of appealing foliage forms, vibrant flower colors, and intriguing fragrances.

Beyond aesthetics, many sages provide practical benefits, whether in the kitchen, for crafts, spiritual practices, or health applications.

Considering the distinctive qualities of various sages may inspire you to try growing some of these hardy herbs or enrich your appreciation of their cultural contributions.

Experimenting with different kinds can uncover new favorites.

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