Eng: Sage / Species: Salvia multicaulis
Salvia has an ingenious device to harness bees to the purpose of cross pollination. As the bee alights on the landing pad of the lower petal and pokes inside the flower in search of nectar, its head buts against a plate on the lower end of the stamen which is part of a lever system causing the anther to swing down and dust pollen on its back. When the bee buzzes off to the next plant, it brushes against the overhanging stigma to which the pollen adheres, making the bee an unwitting accomplice to the plant’s design.
Natural variation in such a device means that some insects are better at pollinating some plants than others and the plants become differentiated according to their insect pollinator, resulting in separate gene pools and species differentiation. Almost a thousand species are known, the largest genera amongst the family of Labiatae (the Mints).Salvia is best known as the culinary herb, sage, which imparts a sausage like flavour to meats and is a good condiment to rich, oily foods as it aids digestion. It comes in several varieties, Dalmatian (Salvia officinalis), Spanish (Salvia officinalis lavandilufolia), and Greek (Salvia triloba), each varying in their bitter aromatic quality. South American sages have a sweet, fruity fragrance and come with red, pink, cream or blue blossoms, often cultivated as ornamentals. Some are pollinated by humming birds. Sacred sage from Mexico (Salvia divinorum) causes psychedelic tripping or shamanistic visions, the only hallucinogen in the mint family and still legal in most countries.
The Bedouin don’t use Salvia multicaulis as a cooking herb, and it doesn’t trip the mind, but infusions are highly valued for subduing a cough, reducing high blood pressure or relieving the pain of toothache.