Recently I attended a ladies luncheon where a horticulturist was the speaker. He brought many drought tolerant plants that thrive in the Las Vegas desert. Two plants he presented were a salvia and a sage. I started to think what the difference was between the two. Both are in the salvia family. Both have beautiful fragrant flowers that bees LOVE. But what can you eat? What is ornamental? Our master horticulturist did not know. What good was he?
I came home and looked up the plants in the salvia family. There are 400 different varieties, but there was not a clear picture of if the ornamental plants were edible. This is a picture taken not too far from my house in the desert. You can point out the sage plants by their light green/silver color. The plant in the front is a Texas Sage.
This little sage is from my garden. Edible sage or culinary sage is a wonderful herb that reminds us of Thanksgiving time; stuffing and turkey. But culinary sage is not just and herb for cooking. It actually has healing properties. This fine plant can be made into tea to help an upset tummy. It can dry up breast milk, and it's oils can be used to heal aching muscles.
As wonderful as our traditional culinary herb is, I still beg to question can we use our ornamental sage bushes for consumption? This is a sage plant near my house called a Cleavland Sage. It has gorgeous flowers with a powerful sweet smell. Humming birds LOVE it. As I continued my research I found that the ancient American Indians used this plant to eat. The seeds were used toasted in their dishes, and often ground to a powder to make a type of bread.
Mexican Sage with it's pointy leaves was also used by the American Indians for medicinal purposes. So, although I never had my question answered as to what was edible, I can say for sure that I would not chance eating an ornamental herb. Stick to those fragrant fresh herbs that you buy at your local nursery, and you won't be disappointed....or sick!