Autumn Sage Savorings & Meanderings

Autumn Sage Savorings & Meanderings

fairyhops.jpgThe Sages are in the process of blooming themselves right to sleep, every single one of them covered in masses of flower – blue, red, purple, all of them. The spp. in the picture is lovely South American native S. coccinea, that grows as a perennial in our pots and as an annual in the garden. It grows easily from seed and flowers with amazing brilliance all season long. It, like many other Sages, is traditionally used as a nervine, digestive aid and blood mover. Unlike the well known Garden Sage, it has a mild, slightly stinky smell with none of its relatives’ intense resinous aromatics. It works well as a tea or in a salve. I haven’t tried the tincture yet. Don’t forget that Sage’s blood moving properties make it an emmenagogue, pain reliever and useful for other stagnant blood issues.

This Summer I discovered a new red flowered Sage growing in damp rock crevices above the river. I still haven’t ID’d it, though it looks very similar to S. henryi but with narrower, grayer foliage. It has an amazing mint-bergemot-sage scent that is incredibly strong, as strong as White Sage but very different. It dries well and makes an excellent smudge. The tincture feels profoundly euphoric and centering to me, but can be a bit giddy feeling to others. It has an intensely cooling effect on the lungs even when taken as a tincture. It’s both relaxing and stimulating, and gives a somewhat less than subtle high to a good majority of those who’ve tried it. I haven’t tried smoking it yet, but expect it to be exceptional for such a use. I do hope to get pictures of it before it stops blooming and hopefully someone can help me identify my new friend.

The dark blue flowered Sawtooth Sage (S. subincisa) that I’ve so frequently written about, is nearly at the end of its season. It’s small for a sage, and has a distinctive skunky odor that easily distinguishes it from the S. reflexa that often grows next to it. This is my favorite spp. to use as a profound nerve tonic, especially for those with chronic shakes or tremors. It’s bitter and green tasting, and the tincture is my favorite preparation.

Red Sage

The lighter blue flowered Chán (S. reflexa) is another native Canyon sage. It grows anywhere remotely moist: on the riverbank, among the Ragweed, in the garden and under the Alders. A cheerful, bergemot scented herb, I use it for various belly upsets and as a mild nerve tonic, especially for children. The tincture is nice, but I like it best as a tea.

Another light blue but much larger flowered spp. is Blue Sage (S. azurea). It’s bitter and nervine, though the flowers have an amazing scent that defies all description. I’m just beginning to work with this species, but the Mexican consider it to be a cure-all and I have, thus far, found it to be another excellent nerve tonic for deep nerve trauma.

Autumn Sage (S. greggii), a leggy, resinous red flowered Sage native to Texas is great for everything that Garden Sage is nice for, from sore throats to teeth problems to hot flashes to belly trouble to wounds.

Garden Sage (S. officianale) is the classic Sage of all Western herbals. I love it in food and as a beverage especially combined with Rose petals. This is the Sage I most often use for children, and I often make it into a sweet elixir combined with Chán for various tummy upsets. It’s also a fine nerve tonic, much underused for this purpose, but not as strong as Sawtooth Sage.

White Sage (S. apiana) is the well known smudge of Southern California. It’s a lovely plant and when of my first choices for wounds of any kind, especially combined with Elderberry and Rosehips. It’s gotten a recent reputation for its usefulness internally for BPH, though it’s range of expertise is far larger than what is currently popular. It can be used in the same ways all the other Sage can, though it is more anti-infective and less astringent that some other species.

I’ve never met a Sage I didn’t love and I hope to meet many more in the coming years, certainly a distinct blessing of living in the Sage rich Southwest.

1 Comment

  1. Crowfoot in Placitas
    Sep 25, 2007

    Hi there Kiva Rose!

    Well, we sure did like your Medicine Woman’s blog today about the marvelous native Salvia clan… You do such sensitive and deep searching of our plant friends! About the as yet unidentified Salvia henryi-like native sage– we sure were interested in your recommendation to dry it in bunches and use it like other sage smudges. Crowfoot was in the Republic of Tuva last month and he knew ahead of time that there were at least 35 species of Artemesia native to that magical land between Siberia and Mongolia. Now, he knows that Artemesias are pretty much unrelated to Salvias– but there are some similar uses and even the common names of many American Artemesis point to some commonalities with the Salvia bunch. Anyways, the people of Tyva (also spelled Tuva) have long been a culture of Shamans and of shamanizing and they use a wonderful native Siberian Juniper (Juniperus sibirica) for their smudge– bunches of it are sold all over Tyva.

    Anyways, Crowfoot got down on his hands and knees a good fifteen times to try to get to know as many native Tyvan Artemesias. And he gathered many of these and dried them and burnt them as a smudge just to learn more while in Tyva. One of his American friends living in Tyva is much involved with some of the Shamans there and he stated categorically that they use no Artemesias for smudging. Well, Crowfoot got this young fellow so interested in the possible shamanic and household uses of native Artemesias in Tyva that the very last sight Crowfoot had of this fine young man was him gathering up bunches of native Artemesias– for what only Spirit knows.

    But back to our American Southwest Salvias and your recent blog on them– it was waaayyyy interesting to us when you wrote: that the tincture of the S henryi-like Salvia “feels profoundly euphoric and centering to me…” We are not quite sure that we have ever felt both euphoria and the feeling of centering at one and the same time. It must be a remarkable feeling, which we sure do hope to experience one day soon.

    And finally, much thanks for the tip about mixing our Garden Sage leaves with Rose petals for a good tasting tea! Crowfoot sure does like to dry Garden Sage and also to dry Rose petals, but he has never made tea from the both of them together. Well, you can bet that we will be doing this in the near future, as the buttery taste of Garden Sage tea mixed with the sweetness that comes from Rose petals must quite simply be real good!

    Thanks again Kiva– keep up the inspiring work.

    From your friends over on the northern flanks of the great Sandia Mountains,
    Crowfoot

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>