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Gerard's Herbal - Part 3

Gerard's Herbal - CHAP. 266. Of Sage.

CHAP. 266. Of Sage.

Fig. 1131. Great Sage (1)

Fig. 1132. Small Sage (2)


The Description.

            1. The great Sage is very full of stalks, four-square, of a woody substance, parted into branches, about the which grow broad leaves, long, wrinkled, rough, whitish, very like to the leaves of Wild Mullein, but rougher, and not so white, like in roughness to woollen cloth thread-bare: the flowers stand forked in the tops of the branches like those of Dead-Nettle, or of Clary, of a purple blue colour, in the place of which doth grow little blackish seeds, in small husks. The root is hard and woody, sending forth a number of little strings.

            2. The lesser Sage is also a shrubby plant, spread into branches like to the former but lesser: the stalks hereof are tenderer: the leaves be long, lesser, narrower, but not less rough; to which there do grow in the place wherein they are fixed to the stalk, two little leaves standing on either side one right against another, somewhat after the manner of fins or little ears: the flowers are eared blue like those of the former: the root also is woody: both of them are of a certain strong smell, but nothing at all offensive; and that which is the lesser is the better.

Fig. 1133. Kinds of Sage (3, 4, 8)

            3. This Indian Sage hath divers branches of a woody substance, whereon do grow small leaves, long, rough, and narrow, of an overworn colour, and of a most sweet and fragrant smell. The flowers grow alongst the top of the branches, of a white colour, in form like the precedent. The root is tough and woody.

            4. The Mountain Sage hath an upright stalk smooth and plain, whereupon do grow broad rough and rugged leaves, slightly nicked, and unevenly indented about the edges, of an hoary colour, sharp pointed, and of a rank smell: the flowers grow alongst the top of the stalk in shape like those of Rosemary, of a whitish red colour. The root is likewise woody.

            5. We have in our gardens a kind of Sage, the leaves whereof are reddish; part of those red leaves are striped with white, others mixed with white, green, and red, even as nature list to play with such plants. This is an elegant variety, and is called Salvia variegata elegans, Variegated or Painted Sage.

            6. We have also another, the leaves whereof are for the most part white, somewhat mixed with green, often one leaf white, and another green, even as nature list, as we have said. This is not so rare as the former, nor near so beautiful, wherefore it may be termed Salvia variegata vulgaris, Common Painted Sage.

            7. There is kept in some of our chief gardens a fine Sage, which in shape and manner of growing resembles the smaller Sage, but in smell and taste hath some affinity with Wormwood; whence it may be termed Salvia absinthites, or Wormwood Sage. Bauhin only hath mentioned this, and that in the fourth place in his Pinax, pag. 237, by the name of Salvia minor altera: and he adds, Hæc odore & sapore est Absinthii, floreque rubente: That is, This hath the smell and taste of Wormwood, and a red flower: but ours (if my memory fail me not) hath a whitish flower: it is a tender plant, and must be carefully preserved from the extremity of winter. I first saw this Sage with Mr. Cannon, and by him it was communicated to some others.

            8. This which we here give you hath pretty large leaves, and those also very hairy on the under side, but rough on the upper side like as the ordinary Sage. The stalks are rough and hairy, four-square below, and round at their tops. The flowers in their growing and shape are like those of the ordinary, but of a whitish purple colour; and fading, they are each of them succeeded by three or four seeds, which are larger than in other Sages, and so fill their seed-vessels, that they show like berries. The smell of the whole plant is somewhat more vehement than that of the ordinary: the leaves also have sometimes little ears or appendices, as in the smaller or Pig-Sage: and in Candy (the natural place of the growth) it bears excrescences, or apples (if we may so term them) of the bigness of large Galls or Oak-Apples: whence Clusius hath given you two figures by the same titles as I here present the same to your view. Matthiolus, Dodonæus, and others also have made mention hereof.

The Place.

            These kinds of Sage grow not wild in England: I have them all in my garden: most of them are very common.

            The fine or elegant painted Sage was first found in a country garden, by Mr. John Tradescant, and by him imparted to other lovers of plants.

The Time.

            These Sages flower in June and July, or later: they are fitly removed and planted in March.

The Names.

            The Apothecaries, the Italians, and the Spaniards keep the Latin name Salvia: in High Dutch, Salben: in French, Sauge: in Low Dutch, Savie: in English, Sage.

The Temperature.

            Sage is manifestly hot and dry in the beginning of the third degree, or in the later end of the second; it hath adjoined no little astriction or binding.

The Virtues.

            A. Agrippa and likewise Aetius have called it the Holy-Herb; because women with child if they be like to come before their time, and are troubled with abortments, do eat thereof to their great good; for it closeth the matrix, and maketh them fruitful, it retaineth the birth, and giveth it life, and if the woman about the fourth day of her going abroad after her childing, shall drink nine ounces of the juice of Sage with a little salt, and then use the company of her husband, she shall without doubt conceive and bring forth store of children, which are the blessing of God. Thus far Agrippa.

            B. Sage is singular good for the head and brain; it quickeneth the senses and memory, strengtheneth the sinews, restoreth health to those that have the palsy upon a moist cause, takes away shaking or trembling of the members; and being put up into the nostrils, it draweth thin phlegm out of the head.

            C. It is likewise commended against the spitting of blood, the cough, and pains of the sides, and bitings of serpents.

            D. The juice of Sage drunk with honey is good for those that spit and vomit blood, and stoppeth the flux thereof incontinently, expelleth wind, drieth the dropsy, helpeth the palsy, strengtheneth the sinews, and cleanseth the blood.

            E. The leaves sodden in water, with Woodbine leaves, Plantain, Rosemary, honey, alum, and some white wine, make an excellent water to wash the secret parts of man or woman, and for cankers or other soreness in the mouth, especially if you boil in the same a fair bright shining sea-coal, which maketh it of greater efficacy.

            F. No man needs to doubt of the wholesomeness of Sage Ale, being brewed as it should be, with Sage, Scabious, Betony, Spikenard, Squinancy, and Fennel seeds.

            G. The leaves of red Sage put into a wooden dish, wherein is put very quick coals, with some ashes in the bottom of the dish to keep the same from burning, and a little vinegar sprinkled upon the leaves lying upon the coals, and so wrapped in a linen cloath, and holden very hot unto the side of those that are troubled with a grievous stitch, taketh away the pain presently: The same helpeth greatly the extremity of the pleurisy.

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