Salvia officinalis 

Scope: Global & Europe
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Magnoliopsida Lamiales Lamiaceae

Scientific Name: Salvia officinalis L.
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Common Name(s):
English Sage
French Sauge, Sauge Officinale
Spanish Mermasangre, Salvia, Salvia fina, Salvia Real
Salvia lavandulifolia Vahl.
Taxonomic Notes: Includes the following subspecies (Reales et al. 2004);

Salvia officinalis subsp. officinalis
Salvia officinalis subsp. gallica
Salvia officinalis subsp. lavandulifolia
Salvia officinalis subsp. oxyodon

The subspecies Salvia officinalis subsp. lavandulifolia (Vahl) Gams is considered a valid species, Salvia lavandulifolia Vahl, by some workers (e.g., Castroviejo et al. 2010, G. Blanca pers. comm. 2014), however we consider it here as a subspecies of Salvia officinalis L. following Reales et al. 2004.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2014
Date Assessed: 2014-02-07
Assessor(s): Allen, D.J.
Reviewer(s): Blanca, G., Sáez Goñalons, L. & Leaman, D.J.
Contributor(s): Stanley, C. & Khela, S.

Global and European regional assessment: Least Concern (LC)

EU 27 regional assessment: Least Concern (LC)

The species has a very broad distribution throughout Mediterranean Europe. Although the exact native distribution is not well understood the species is assessed as Least Concern due to its widespread distribution, stable populations and no major threats. It is cultivated and naturalised widely.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The species has a very broad distribution throughout southern and southeastern Europe. The exact native distribution is not well understood; considered to have originated in the Balkan Peninsula and widely naturalised throughout much of southern Europe (e.g., locally naturalized in the Iberian Peninsula prior to the cultivation of crops) by Castroviejo et al. (2010). However we consider here Salvia lavandulifolia Vahl to be a synonym of Salvia officinalis, and Castroviejo et al. (2010) state Salvia lavandulifolia to be native to Spain (primarily eastern provinces), southeastern France, and northwestern Africa (coastal areas of Morocco and western Algeria).

Reales et al. (2004) in their review of the Salvia genus, found that records of this species from Africa refer to the S. fruticosa/S. blancoana group, which does however overlap with Salvia officinalis in some regions; thus the distribution of Salvia officinalis is considered to be across northern and western Mediterranean, from the former Yugoslavia through the southern Alps to the southeastern Iberian Peninsula.

Although it is native to the Mediterranean region it is grown commercially in gardens all over Europe and has widely naturalised (USDA 2012, Forey 1991, Euro+Med Plantbase 2006-).
Countries occurrence:
Albania; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Croatia; France (Corsica - Introduced, France (mainland)); Greece (East Aegean Is. - Present - Origin Uncertain, Greece (mainland), Kriti - Present - Origin Uncertain); Italy (Italy (mainland), Sardegna - Present - Origin Uncertain, Sicilia - Present - Origin Uncertain); Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Montenegro; Serbia (Kosovo, Serbia); Slovenia; Spain (Baleares - Introduced, Spain (mainland))
Andorra; Austria; Belgium; Bulgaria; Czech Republic; Denmark; Germany; Ireland; Luxembourg; Malta; Moldova; Norway; Poland; Romania; Russian Federation (European Russia, South European Russia); Slovakia; Sweden; Switzerland; Turkey (Turkey-in-Europe); Ukraine (Ukraine (main part)); United Kingdom (Great Britain)
Present - origin uncertain:
Portugal (Portugal (mainland))
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):2100
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:A common species that is relatively widespread throughout its range; the status of populations within its natural are not known, but considered likely to be stable.
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:A perennial, evergreen shrub up to 60 cm height (Castroviejo et al. 2010). Found in a range of habitats including dry shrubby vegetation, dry meadows, and rocky steppes.
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:No
Movement patterns:Not a Migrant

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This is a commonly used and popular herb for cooking. The fresh leaves can be used to make tea for relief of cold, flu and sore throats. A decoction with wine can be gargled for relief of toothache and a mixture with rosemary is reputed to maintain, strengthen and stimulate the growth of brunette hair (Lewis and Elvin-Lewis 2003). The leaves are well known for their anti-oxidative, anti-bacterial, fungistatic, virustatic, astringent, eupeptic and anti-hydrotic properties. The antimicrobial properties of the tannins have astringent properties and are an active ingredient of dental-care herbal medicinal preparations. The extracts and essential oil have hypotensive properties, central nervous system-depressant actions and antispasmodic activity (Baricevic et al. 2001).

Herbal preparations consist of comminuted herbal substance, dry or liquid extract, tincture, herbal tea and liquid or semi-solid preparations for oromucosal use. The essential oil has a very variable composition depending on the source and harvest time but consists of thujone, cineol, camphor and the leaves tannins, diterpene bitter principles, triterpenes, steroids, flavones, and flavonoid glycosides (European Medicine Agency 2009a,b). The essential oil from the plant is used in small doses to remove mucous from the respiratory organs and mixed in embrocations for treating rheumatism  and used internally in the treatment of excessive lactation, night sweats, excessive salivation (as in Parkinson's disease), profuse perspiration (as in TB), anxiety, depression, female sterility and menopausal problems. Sage is furthermore used commercially to flavour baked goods, ice cream, and sweets (Plants for a Future 2012).

Natural populations in Spain are stable and weakly exploited, scarcely collected; probably not harvested for their essential oils for more than 20 years, when rudimentary stills were used directly in the field. However, the economic crisis may cause a return to historical exploitation (G. Blanca pers. comm. 2014).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

The are no known significant threats to this species and present-day collection from wild populations is assumed to be negligible across its range.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no current conservation actions required. It is considered Rare in Slovenia and Vulnerable in Albania. It is listed as Least Concern in Germany (Ludwig and Schnittler 1996) and Vulnerable in Switzerland (Moser et al 2002).

Citation: Allen, D.J. 2014. Salvia officinalis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2014: e.T203260A2762648. . Downloaded on 26 September 2018.
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