Sage is an aromatic herb used for both medicinal and culinary purposes. Not all of the varieties detailed here are used for culinary purposes; some simply make an attractive flower. Either way, these six different types of sage vary in color and use, but all of them make a wonderful addition to any garden.
1. Garden Sage
This is the most common type of sage. It can be used for cooking, for brewing tea, or simply for decoration. It is very hardy, and, even after a long winter, will come back more prolific the next year. Time seems to give this herb intensified production as well. Garden sage is silvery green with soft leaves, which can be used in cooking either fresh or dried. It will also attract beneficial garden insects if you leave some untouched on the ground.
2. Pineapple Sage
A perennial flower with tubular red flowers, salvia elegans, better known as pineapple sage, attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. Not known for its culinary uses, pineapple sage is thought to have medicinal effects, possessing antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties.
3. Russian Sage
Another perennial plant, Russian sage has silver-gray leaves and produces small, blue or lavender tubular flowers. It's not a culinary form of sage. In fact, it's not even in the sage genus, nor does it come from Russia. It's actually native to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
4. Purple Sage
Less hardy than garden sage, purple sage will nonetheless survive outdoors even in cooler climates. Once it is established—and if it is protected in the winter—it will come back in bloom the following year. Grow it in your garden for a dash of purple when you're mixing and matching different flowers for effect.
5. Golden Sage
Not merely a culinary herb, golden sage is used in many gardens as a strictly ornamental plant. It is about as hardy as purple sage, so it must be protected throughout the winter, but once it is established it will come back year after year.
6. Berggarten Sage
This variety of sage is very similar to garden sage except that it's bred so it will not flower. This hybrid sage will continue to produce soft, silvery green leaves for both culinary and aromatic uses.
If you're a gardener, herbs offer a great variety of culinary, aromatic, and ornamental uses. Sage is one of the hardiest additions to any garden, and because there are so many varieties, you can enjoy the best of all its uses. Also since it's a perennial, if you protect sage throughout the cold season, it will come back strong for years to come.
You might also like our article on How to Dry Sage Leaves.