Sage can be found virtually anywhere in the world. The only exceptions where it can not be found, are in the Antarctic and Australia. Through sage's widespread territory, it has been known to man for thousands of years. It is highly appreciated as a spice and as a medicinal plant.
Sage belongs to the Lamiaceae genus. There are about 1,000 different species of sage found in the world, most of which are herbaceous plants or shrubs. With this diversity, there are large differences in the appearance of the plants. There are plants that are more than one meter high, while others are just a few centimeters. The flowers may also be different. In Central Europe, common sage has violet, sometimes white flowers. Other species have orange or bright red flowers. Despite all the differences, all the plants have one big thing in common: the felt-like, gray-green leaves.
In Europe, sage was initially at home primarily in Dalmatia and Macedonia. However, it soon spread across the entire continent. Various legends quickly grew up around the plant, whose medicinal properties have been known for millennia. The Druids were of the opinion that one could revive the dead during the Plague using sage. During the Black Plague in medieval Europe, it was believed that sage could keep the disease away. As a spice, it was only used in recent times. Today sage is grown mainly in the Mediterranean region, in the Crimea, in Ireland, Scandinavia and in the USA.
Sage has a strong, balsamic spicy smell and a spicy, bitter taste. This is due to the plant's essential oils and bitter tannins. It is mainly used in Italian cooking and goes well with meat, poultry, fish and game dishes. Sage can be used fresh or dried, and remains aromatic when dry because of the concentrated ingredients.
Even the generic name "Salvia" draws attention to the long use of sage as a medicinal plant. The name comes from the Latin term "salvare", which means to heal. Sage is used for coughs and hoarseness. It has a soothing effect on the stomach and can prevent colds when consumed regularly. Due to its antiseptic properties, it also helps with gum problems. The plants, however, are used not only as a spice and for medicinal means. Sage is very versatile. In South America it is used as an incense. It is also used in perfumes and air fresheners, in hair products and to ward away insects. Sage is also a very popular ornamental plant and can even be used as compost accelerator.