Salvia africana

Blue Sage - Salvia africana

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Plant Uses & Benefits: aromatic, bees, butterflies, cosmetics, culinary herb, flavouring, fragrance, incense, insect repellent, medicine, pot plant, potpourri, small garden, tea, water-wise, wind tolerant


Common names: blue sage, wild sage, African sage, purple sage (English); blousalie, bloublomsalie, Afrikaansesalie, perdesalie, wildesalie (Afrikaans). 
Botanical name: Salvia africana
Previously known as: Salvia africana-caerulea
Family: Lamiaceae

• Previously – Salvia africana-caerulea
• Etymology – Latin salvere meaning ‘to save’ or ‘heal’, caerulea means ‘blue’
• Confusers –
• Other species in the genus –
o Salvia aurea – dune sage, golden sage (was Salvia africana-lutea)
o Salvia chamelaeagnea – rough blue sage, mountain sage, white flower varieties
o Salvia officinalis – Common Mediterranean, European sage




Type: shrub
Vegetation type: Peninsula Shale Renosterveld 
Flower colour: blue, white
Flowering season: Autumn, Spring, Summer, Winter
Plant-animal interactions: bees, butterflies
Red list status: Least Concern

• Indigenous to South African fynbos, Western Cape, and Northern Cape.
• Perennial shrub, common on the Western Cape sandy coastline, river beds, and mountain slopes.
• Leaves – aromatic, rich in essential oil, slightly hairy, edge may be toothed
• Flowers – blue-purple and white, most of the year
• Pollinated by bees (flower adapted) and butterflies
Conservation Ecology
• Wide distribution, commonly cultivated
• Red List – Least concern

Use as Medicine

Herbal traditions: Cape Dutch, Cape Herbal Medicine
Plant parts used: leaves

• Used as a medicine by the early Dutch settlers, with lemon juice and Epson salts, for digestive ailments.

Safety & Toxicity

Safety: caution during pregnancy, herb-drug interactions

• Avoid using in pregnant women
• Use with caution in patients on hypoglycaemic or anti-convulsant therapy

Qualities & Phytochemistry

Plant qualities: aromatic, bitter, cleansing, uplifting
Phytochemical constituents: caryophyllene, rosmarinic acid, sesquiterpenes, spathulenol, terpenoids

• cleansing, clearing, and uplifting
• Essential oil – sesquiterpenes – spathulenol, beta-caryophyllene
• Phenolic compounds – rosmarinic acid

Actions & Pharmacology

Plant actions: anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, antiplasmoidial, carminative, expectorant, vulnerary



Plant preparations: balm, compress, cream, decoction, dried, essential oil, fresh, fumigant, gargle, gel, incense, infusion - aqueous, infusion - vegetable oil, lotion, salt, salve, smudge, soap, spray, steam, syrup, tincture, wash

• fresh – chewed
• infusion
• decoction
• essential oil
• steam
• wash
• gargle
• cough syrup

First-Aid Indications

First-aid use: colds & 'flu, colic, cough, depression, diarrhoea, flatulence, heartburn, indigestion, sore throat, stomach ache, wounds 

• Skin
o wounds
• Respiratory
o colds and ‘flu
o coughs
o sore throats
o chest infections
• Digestive
o Indigestion
o colic
o flatulence
o stomach-ache
o diarrhoea
o heartburn
• Urogenital
o ‘women’s ailments’
• Psychiatric
o mental fatigue
o depression

Medical Indications

Medical use:  

● Tuberculosis

Veterinary Indications

Medical use:  

● S. africana has shown antipyretic and analgesic potential in mice and rats.135



Review Articles
• none
Clinical research
● Clinical Trials – none
● Meta-Analyses – none
● Randomised Controlled Trials – none
● Systematic Reviews – none

Other Uses

Uses & Benefits: aromatic, bees, butterflies, cosmetics, culinary herb, flavouring, fragrance, incense, insect repellent, medicine, pot plant, potpourri, small garden, tea, water-wise, wind tolerant

Use as Food
Plant Parts Used
● leaves
• Good substitute for Salvia officinalis in cooking. Fresh, medicinal, aromatic, bitter flavours, but can be a bit disinfectant-like, so use sparingly.
• Fresh
• Dried
• Tea
• Added to salt

Other Uses
● insect repellent
● fumigant

Cultivation & Harvest

Light-level: afternoon sun, full sun, morning sun, semi-shade
Soil type: sandy, well-drained
Soil pH: Acidic
Propagation: cuttings, seed

● Soil – well-drained, sandy, acid, well composted
● Light – full sun, semi-shade
● Water – avoid overwatering, drought resistant
● Pruning – after flowering to keep neat and stimulate new growth
● Frost-tolerant
● Cuttings – new growth from the base of the plant in spring or early summer
● Seeds – sown in spring or early summer
● Pruning – after flowering, and pinching the tips will encourage bushy, vigorous growth and more flowers.