Salvia sclarea

On a hot day, you can practically see the volatile oils evaporating from the Clary Sage, Salvia sclarea on the Systematic Beds and also in the Scented Garden. The large branched inflorescences consist of square stems (typical of the Labiatae family) covered in sticky hairs all along which are arranged verticils of 6-8 flowers.
The flower arise out of conspicuous, hairy and pointed bracts and the upper pale lilac petal is curved and hooded, and when the stamens are visible, resembles a serpent with flickering tongue.

Clary sage has a long history of use in herbal medicine and although the scent is rather bitter, the distilled essential oil is widely used in perfumery and for flavouring.

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