The weather’s been a bit up and down recently, sunny one minute and raining the next – as they say in Cornwall, ‘don’t like the weather? Just wait five minutes’! We’ve still got some thriving plants though, including our herb of the month, Pineapple Sage.
Salvia elegans, commonly called Pineapple Sage, is a perennial shrub with tubular red flowers and a pineapple scent to its leaves (hence the name!). Native to Mexico and Guatemala, its flowers are attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies, in some areas was found to be in the top three plants visited by hummingbirds. It grows up to 1.5m tall and usually flowers between August and late autumn, though some varieties bloom much earlier in the summer. Pineapple sage is relatively easy to grow, liking rich and well-drained soil with lots of light and regular watering. It will flourish either in the ground or in a pot, just remember to leave it lots of space as its roots will grow into a large tangle.
When it comes to uses, pineapple sage shines as a culinary herb. Mixed with garlic and butter it can be a beautifully fruity rub for chicken or even an unusual way to make garlic bread. Its leaves are used in many pestos, with a slightly sweeter taste than common sage. They can also be tossed into fruit or vegetable salads, used as a garnish or to make hot or cold teas. Or try something more adventurous and make a pineapple sage syrup to use on pancakes, waffles, cakes or ice cream. Even the flowers are edible, making fantastic garnishes for desserts.
Pineapple sage is a member of the Salvia family, which takes its name from the Latin verb ‘salvare’, meaning ‘to save’ or ‘to heal’. It is not a surprise then that sage has many medicinal uses. It is traditionally used to lower blood pressure, ease anxiety, indigestion and heartburn. It is also used to ward off negativity, bad spirits, bad health and even bad luck. A home can be cleansed of all negative energy and influences by hanging garlands of sage around windows and doors, or ‘smudging’ (burning the herbs). Whether you use it for any of these things or not, it can’t be denied that pineapple sage is a beautiful addition to any garden.