There are no active references in this article.
A sub-evergreen, aromatic shrub, usually 1 to 2 ft high, but said in favourable places to become three times as high; young stems square, and only half woody; the whole plant is covered with a short down which gives it a grey appearance. Leaves opposite, oblong, 2 to 31⁄2 in. long, 1⁄2 to 1 in. wide; much wrinkled, round-toothed. Flowers arranged in whorls on terminal, erect racemes about 6 in. long. Corolla tubular, 3⁄4 in. long, two-lipped, purple; calyx ribbed, funnel-shaped, two-lipped, about half as long as the corolla. Perfect stamens two. Blossoms from June onwards.
This species is considered to be genuinely wild at least in Spain and W. Yugoslavia, but is naturalised elsewhere in S. Europe; long cultivated as a medicinal and culinary herb and probably introduced to Britain in the early Middle Ages (or even in Roman times). It was highly valued in former times for making sage-beer – supposed to possess many healing virtues. It is still much used in the kitchen and indeed one of the most widely grown and sold of culinary herbs. The plant likes a sunny position, and is easily increased by cuttings placed under a handlight. Although rarely seen outside the kitchen garden, this plant is worth growing in a collection of old-fashioned fragrant plants for its crowd of erect racemes. But some of the clones of common sage sold for growing in the kitchen garden are selected for their leafiness and do not flower freely.