Aromatic plants

Salvia officinalis

We know the salvia officinalis

Salvia officinalis is the common variety, the one most used in the kitchen and which is easily found in florists, nurseries and even supermarkets, which offer it together with other aromatic herbs due to the frequency with which it is used in the preparation of meat dishes. It is an evergreen shrub with lanceolate oval leaves, velvety and of a particular green. It grows spontaneously in the Mediterranean basin and has purple flowers gathered in spikes. The plant does not need much attention and lends itself very well to being grown as an ornamental plant, both in the garden and in pots. Flowering begins in spring and lasts for most of the summer. The leaves of the plant are used, both fresh and in decoctions, or even to extract essential oils. Well known and used by the ancient Romans, it was precisely these who discovered and handed down its therapeutic virtues and gave it the nickname “officinalis”. Salvia, from the Latin, means salvation or even health. Salvia officinalis does not exceed one meter in height and over the years the stem becomes woody. After 5 years it is advisable to replace the plants with young cuttings.

Cultivation of salvia officinalis

Sandy, well-drained soil and full sun exposure are the sage plant’s preferences for growing well and flowering profusely. The plant can also live indoors, but it is outdoors that it develops best. Sage can be multiplied by seed or by cutting. Sowing should be done in spring, but, considering the ease of multiplication by cuttings, it is usually better to take some twigs from the mother plant around March or June and place them in pots: the roots are high and the new plants will sprout a few weeks later. To increase the chances of germination they can be covered with a transparent bag, to be removed periodically to eliminate excess moisture. The plastic should be removed as soon as you see that the seedlings have developed the first new leaves. Salvia officinalis leaves can be harvested throughout the year and used in the kitchen fresh or dried. The plant is perennial and survives the winter, even outdoors, as long as it is not too rigid.

Treat the sage

Despite being a rustic plant, salvia officinalis can also suffer from some disease, pest attacks or critical situations. Since its cultivation is almost never done for aesthetic purposes only, it is not advisable to use chemical treatments. The yellowed and speckled leaves are an indication of the presence of the red spider: it may be useful to nebulize the plant to increase the humidity, an enemy of the spider. Aphids, commonly called lice, can only be fought with a specific pesticide. Fungi, both those that cause whitish mold and those that cause rot, can be fought by drastically eliminating the affected parts. However, it should be considered that, given the ease and low cost of the operation, it is advisable to renew the plants,

Salvia officinalis: Properties and use of sage

In the kitchen, sage is the undisputed protagonist for the taste it can add to chicken, meats in general, but also fish and meat. In herbal medicine the leaves are used to prepare infusions and decoctions. Rich in flavonoids, sage contains traces of thujone, so it should be used in moderation in concentrated forms, such as essential oils. The decoction is prepared by placing a dozen well-cleaned leaves in a saucepan of water and bringing everything to a boil. Turn off, add a lemon peel, leave to rest for a few minutes and filter. If drunk warm or hot it helps digestion, it is a disinfectant antibacterial, valid for treating the symptoms of colds and sore throats. It is also considered a natural hormone as it helps menopausal women, alleviating the typical discomfort of this phase, especially hot flashes. The beneficial properties of sage are well known as regards the health of the teeth and mouth. A leaf rubbed on the teeth makes them whiter and cleaner and helps the health of the gums. The sage infusion used after shampooing strengthens and makes hair shiny.

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