An Eco-sustainable World
HerbaceousSpecies Plant

Salvia sclarea

Salvia sclarea

The clary sage (Salvia sclarea L., 1753) is an aromatic perennial herbaceous species, belonging to the Lamiaceae family.

Systematics –
From a systematic point of view it belongs to:
Eukaryota Domain,
Kingdom Plantae,
Subarign Tracheobionta,
Spermatophyta superdivision,
Magnoliophyta Division,
Magnoliopsida class,
Subclass Asteridae,
Lamiales Order,
Lamiaceae family,
Mentheae Tribe,
Genus Salvia,
S. sclarea species.
The terms are synonymous:
– Aethiopis sclarea (L.) Fourr.;
– Aethiopis sclarea (L.) Opiz;
– Salvia altilabrosa Pan;
– Salvia altilabrosa Pau, 1918;
– Salvia bracteata Sims, 1822;
– Salvia calostachya Gand.;
– Salvia coarctata Vahl;
– Salvia haematodes Scop.;
– Salvia lucana Cavara & Grande;
– Salvia pamirica Gand.;
– Salvia sclarea var. calostachya (Gand.) Nyman;
– Salvia sclarea var. turkestaniana Mottet;
– Salvia sclarea var. turkestanica (Noter) Mottet;
– Salvia simsiana Schult.;
– Salvia turkestanica Noter;
– Sclarea vulgaris Mill..

Etymology –
The term Salvia is the name already used by Pliny for Salvia officinalis, from sálvo to save, to heal (connected with the Sanskrit sárvas intgro): for its officinal properties.
The specific clary epithet comes from sclareia zampogna: perhaps due to the shape of the corolla; according to Mattioli “The Italian women put a grain of the seed of this Hormino in the hazy eyes, nor do they pull it out, unless the eyes first lighten, in which he has marvelous properties; hence he took the plant the name of Sclarea” .

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
Clary sage is a plant with European origin and especially in the Mediterranean area.
It is absent in much of northern Africa and its range extends east to Kazakhstan, Afghanistan and the Himalayas.
It grows in France (in the departments of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Hautes-Alpes, Alpes-Maritimes, Drôme and Isère), in Switzerland (canton of Valais), in Austria (Länder of North Tyrol) and in Slovenia. On the other European reliefs connected to the Alps it is found in the Vosges, the Jura Massif, the Central Massif, the Pyrenees and the Balkan Mountains.
In Italy it is present throughout the territory but it is rare and often and only wild. In the Italian Alps it has a discontinuous distribution.
Its habitat is that of the rocky slopes, mixed deciduous and coniferous woods, shale embankments and roadsides up to over 1000 meters as in Turkey, where it reaches up to 2000 meters. s.l.m ..

Description –
Clary sage is a biennial herbaceous plant that can exceed one meter in height.
The stem is erect, enlarged, quadrangular, ribbed and with frizzy hairs.
The leaves are velvety; the lower ones with lamina of 4-12 X 7-18 cm, in the rosette in the first year; the smaller cauline ones, irregularly indented.
The inflorescence is large with erect-patent branches. Bracts membranous, purplish, 2-3 cm and in any case longer than the corolla. Calyx with bristly tube and spiny teeth. Corolla rosea or liliacina of 15-20 mm.
The schizocarpic fruit is a microbasarium (tetrachenium or tetranucola) formed by 4 mericarps (achenes or nucule) of 2-2.5 x 2 mm, globose, obovoid or ellipsoid, smooth.

Cultivation –
Clary sage is a fairly decorative plant both for its foliage and its flowers and which can be easily grown, even for ornamental purposes.
It prefers a fresh, light, slightly calcareous soil and a full sun exposure.
It is a plant that is also harvested in its natural state for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials. It has sometimes been grown quite commonly as a medicinal herb, for its essential oil, and as a flavoring for food, but is currently little cultivated. In Italy, cultivation is mainly concentrated in Piedmont (for the production of vermouth and other liqueurs including Fernet Branca) and in the southern regions.
The multiplication takes place with sowing at the beginning of spring in the nursery, followed by a replanting in May, or with division of tufts. The harvest takes place after 4-5 months of planting.

Customs and Traditions –
Clary sage is a plant known since ancient times for its properties and virtues. Already the Greeks and Romans made extensive use of it like Salvia officinalis.
In folk medicine it is used as a digestive, laxative, diuretic and against asthma. It is used as a remedy for hemorrhoids, fever, cough and abscesses. In case of wounds or sores it is recommended to apply crushed leaves. To cause menstruation in case of delay, the decoction of the whole plant is used, while that of the leaves alone in case of gingivitis. Recognized as an excellent tonic, the elderly of the Marche used to carry a leaf in their mouth for this purpose.
In popular cuisine the leaves were consumed boiled, while in oenology they were widely used to intensify the aroma of Muscat wine.
It was used as a substitute for tobacco and to perfume the barrels.
Currently its main use is for the production of vermouth, liqueurs and perfumes.
In medicine, Clary Sage demonstrates good tonic-stimulating properties against the digestive system, antispasmodic and anthysterical, bactericidal and against excessive sweating, regulates menstrual flow, improves the state of the scalp, shows aphrodisiac and hypotensive properties. The seeds have a mucilaginous coating, the old herbalists suggested placing a seed in the eye of someone who has a foreign body in it, so as to adhere to the object and make it easy to remove.
Clary sage has a higher essential oil content than other sage species and has long been cultivated for oil extraction. There are notable differences in the oil yield of plants from different geographic locations.
When the leaves are bruised they give off a deliciously pungent and refreshing scent of fresh grapefruit.
The flowers are very attractive to bees.
Among the edible uses can be consumed the leaves, raw or cooked. They have a strong, warm, aromatic taste and smell and are mainly used as a flavoring in cooked foods.
From the flowering stems an essential oil is obtained that has an aroma of ambergris and is used in soaps, cosmetics, as a fixative in perfumery, etc.
The main constituents of the oil are: Linalool, Linalyl acetate, Alpha terpineol, Germacrene D and Geranyl acetate.

Preparation Method –
Clary sage is mainly obtained from an essential oil used in the manufacture of vermouth, liqueurs or perfumes.
It has also been used to aromatize and adulterate wine, to intensify the aroma of Moscato, to give vitality to the organism, treat depression, regulate the nervous system.In English beers, the clary was used as an aroma before use. of hops became common. The plant is sometimes used as a substitute for hops, giving it a notable bitterness and for its intoxicating properties.
The leaves can be used, fresh or dried, to flavor meat dishes: pork, veal, sheep, game, sauces. The leaves have also been used as a vegetable.
The leaves can be dipped in batter and cooked to make delicious pancakes.
The raw, pleasant-tasting flowers can be sprinkled on chopped salads or made into a tea.
In industry it has also been used to flavor some tobacco products.
The oil extracted from the seeds is used as an ingredient in commercial cosmetic preparations as an emollient.
An extract from the flowers, leaves and stems is used as an ingredient in commercial cosmetic preparations as a skin conditioner.
An extract of the plant is used as an ingredient in commercial cosmetic preparations as an antiseborrheic, astringent, skin conditioner and soothing agent.
A drying oil is obtained from the seed, used in varnishes, paints, etc.
In medicine the leaves are used that can be used fresh or dried; for drying they are harvested before the plant blooms.
Essential oil is used in aromatherapy. It is preferred over Salvia officinalis due to its lower toxicity level.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Useful Tropical Plants Database.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (ed.), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Lord’s Pharmacy, Advice and experiences with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Editore.
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Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not represent in any way a medical prescription; therefore no responsibility is taken for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.

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