Botanical name: Salvia sclarea Family: Lamiaceae (Mint family)
Synonyms: Salvia asperata, Salvia pamirica
Clary Sage is a biennial or short-lived perennial herb, reaching 1-1.3 ft in height, with square stems that are covered with hairs. Leaves are ovate to ovate-oblong, approximately 1 ft long at the base, 0.5 ft long higher on the plant. The upper leaf surface is rugose, and covered with glandular hairs. Flowers are arranged in showy spikes of numerous 6-10-flowered distant verticillasters. Bracts or floral leaves are large, green, white or pink, membranous, cuspidate, as long as or longer than flowers. Flower-stalks are 2-3 mm, spreading-erect. Sepal cup is ovate-bell-shaped, about 1 cm in flower lengthening to about 1.3 cm in fruit, with glandular and eglandular hairs and stalkless glands. Upper lip with 3 spinulose teeth; lower lip with 2 narrow ovate spinulose teeth. Flowers are white, lilac or cream, 2-3 cm; upper lip sickle-shaped, tube about 1 cm long. Stamens have an elongated connective and a sterile dolabriform lower theca. Nutlets are 4, about 3 x 2 mm, round, scarcely trigonous, rounded, pale brown with darker veins. Clary seeds have a mucilaginous coat, which is why some old herbals recommended placing a seed into the eye of someone with a foreign object in it so that it could adhere to the object and make it easy to remove. This practice is noted by Nicholas Culpeper in his Complete Herbal (1653), who referred to the plant as "clear-eye". Clary Sage is found in W. Asia, parts of the Himalayas and S. Europe.
Medicinal uses: The distilled essential oil is used widely in perfumes and as a muscatel flavoring for vermouths, wines, and liquors. It is also used in aromatherapy for relieving anxiety and fear, and helping with insomnia.
Identification credit: Gurcharan Singh
The flower labeled Clary Sage is ...