Heirloom & Perennial Ltd

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Salvia sclarea, Clary Sage

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A very ornamental plant, it is strongly aromatic and is sometimes cultivated for its essential oil.

When bruised, the leaves release a deliciously pungent and refreshing smell of fresh grapefruit. The flowers are very attractive to bees.

Clary has been perceived both as a weaker version of sage (Salvia officinalis) and also as a significant herb in its own right.

Requires a very well-drained light sandy soil in a sunny position. Thrives on any ground that is not too wet. Plants can be killed by excessive winter wet.

Hardy to about -20°c. A biennial or short-lived perennial. The flowers can be air-dried and used as everlasting flowers.

Can be sown in situ during spring. Alternatively seed can be sown in August/September to overwinter, it will then produce larger plants. Thinnings can be transplanted.

Edible uses

Leaves - raw or cooked. A strong, warm, aromatic taste and odour. They are used mainly as a flavouring in cooked foods, they are similar to sage (S. officinalis). The leaves can be dipped in batter and cooked to make delicious fritters.

Flowers - raw. A pleasant taste, they can be sprinkled on chopped salads, or made into a tea..

The plant is sometimes used as a hop substitute in flavouring beer, imparting considerable bitterness and intoxicating properties - it either makes people dead drunk or insanely exhilarated. The leaves have also been used to adulterate wine and give it a muscatel flavour.


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