Botanical name: Salvia mellifera
Black sage grows off the hook here my hood! Fields of it. I find it all over the foothills ringing Los Angeles. It’s a woody evergreen shrub that grows about three feet tall. Its dark green leaves are long and slender, an elongated oval shape 1-3″ long. Volatile oils make the leaves ever-so-slightly sticky to touch. It likes sun, tolerates some shade.
Its flowers are a distinctive marker for this plant. The small flowers jut out from round ball formations arranged in a row vertically upward along the stem’s top end. Near Los Angeles, I find the flowers are purple or lavender, though they can also be white. The flower balls are green during rainy growing season. They turn dark brown and lose their flowers during and after the dry season.
Suggested Culinary Use for Wild Sages
Use the leaves as a spice, much as you would garden sage. Perfect for flavoring soups, dicing and adding to sautéed dishes, pastas, or flavorizing flesh. Leaves can also be used for tea. Tribal culinary uses include eating stems and leaves, making gruel and flour from seeds, and using the seeds to create a refreshing drink. Seeds can also be grinded and used as a spice. Sages also have medicinal properties.