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How to Identify the Herb Sage

By Ana Cassis ; Updated July 21, 2017

Salvia Officinalis, commonly known as garden sage, is a culinary herb favorite. It contains thujone in the volatile oil, which serves as an antiseptic, antibiotic and a vermifuge (expeller of parasites), and it is a member of the Lamiaceae (mint) family. Sage is a hardy perennial evergreen with several variations: icterina with gold leaves, purpurea with dark purple leaves that later turn green, tricolor with cream, green and pink leaves, berggarten with large oval leaves and minum, also known as dwarf garden sage. Native to Mediterranean regions, it is currently cultivated in many parts of the world.

Observe the plant as a whole to notice if it has the common identification qualities of garden sage: small shrub growing no taller than 2 feet height and spreading 1-2 feet wide.

Come closer to the herb and observe its leaves and stems for the following characteristics found in sage: purple or green woody, square stems covered in a fine down. Leaves have a leathery texture also covered with soft hair and are stalked and opposite. When observed closely, they show a network of veins on both sides of leaf and their color depends on the variety of herb (mentioned above).

Rub leaf between thumb and index finger to gather scent on skin. Sniff for the characteristic lemony smell of sage.


About the Author


Ana Cassis began writing professionally in 1995. She has been published in the magazines "Cancunissimo," "Mesa Visions" and in online heath publications. Cassis is a nutrition counselor and herbalist with experience in fitness, nutrition and yoga. She holds an Associate of Arts in architecture from San Diego Mesa College.