In the plant world, the salvia family (which is literally “rat-tail-grass” in Chinese) includes nearly 1,000 species. The great numbers of both reflect the inherent vitality. Salvia is the largest genus of plants in the Lamiaceae family, which consists of aromatic plants and herbs such as lavender, mint, rosemary, and sage.
It is widely found throughout the temperate climate zone and the tropics. Its types include annual, biennial, perennial, and evergreen. They are often spotted growing on hill slopes, roadsides, among the grass, along streams and rivers, and in woods at low to medium altitudes.
The majority of the salvia plants are aromatic. They can be distilled for essential oil and have a long history of medicinal and culinary use. Ancient Greeks and Romans named sage the “holy herb.” The name “salvia” derives from the Latin “salvere,” which means to heal. There is an old saying in Southern France that states “there is no need for a doctor when you have sage at home.” Europeans of the Middle Ages knew of the medicinal use of sage. They made drinks with it for its healing properties until they started importing tea leaves from the East.
Sage is an aromatic plant, has strong vitality, and proves resistant to plant diseases and insect pests. Its leaves are oblong and the straight stem can grow up to 50 cm with closely packed purplish flower strings hanging on it. The plant may be slender in size, but there are many growing together; the sight of a sea of blooming sage flowers in charming purple is impressive.
According to the medieval language of flowers, sage means “domestic virtue.” At the turn of a new year, let us take in the beauty of sage, appreciate its vitality, and learn to live up to its home spirit. The start of the new year has not been quiet. Attacks of African swine fever and plague last year were followed by the highly contagious coronavirus. At this time of turbulence, we should live like the sage plant — be strong in managing the health of your family and be considerate and kind to uplift your mind to combat illness.
Translated by Cecilia and edited by Helen