Win a copy of Bioshelter Market Garden this week in the Market Garden forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • James Freyr
  • Nicole Alderman
  • Anne Miller
  • r ranson
  • Mike Jay Haasl
  • Dave Burton
  • Pearl Sutton
  • paul wheaton
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Joseph Lofthouse
garden masters:
  • Steve Thorn
  • Dan Boone
  • Carla Burke
  • Kate Downham

Are the leaves of all Salvia species edible?

Posts: 203
Location: NNSW Australia
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A google search shows that this question is asked A LOT, with no good answers.

I know there is one species of Salvia which is banned in most places, so forget that one [though its technically edible]. (there are 1,000 other varieties of Salvia)

Most of the 'answers' say "only Salvia officianalis is edible" or "the leaves of these 6 well-known species are edible" (pineapple, chia, fruit-scented, greek, hispanica, lanceolata).

I've been eating leaves and flowers of S. coccinea (texas red sage) fairly regularly for 13 years and its not on any edible species list.
I've also eaten some S. splendens leaf and flowers, though not regularly.

I know that many highly-bred flowers or variegated plants can produce novel compounds that are either harmful or unrecognizable to our digestive system. Hibiscus flowers being a good example (only the traditional single flower variety is safe/tasty).
However, I assume that many/most/all traditional varieties of Salvia have edible leaves simply because the Lamiaceae family they belong to produces so many of our food plants and I've never seen a Salvia species with a label warning not to eat it.

Various Salvias are used traditionally/medicinally because of their wide variety of terpenes, I've personally used smudge sticks of various varieties as an effective anxiolytic.
I wonder how these terpenes survive/absorb through the digestive tract and whether they would be present in sufficient quantity to affect neurotransmitters and the like if you ate a lot of it.

If the question can't be answered definitively, please reply with varieties of "ornamental" Salvia that you are comfortable with eating.
Posts: 6348
Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
hugelkultur dog forest garden duck fish fungi hunting books chicken writing homestead
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
"Salvia divinorum, or the ‘diviner’s sage’, is a rare member of the mint family (Lamiaceae; formerly Labiatae), characterised in the mid-twentieth century.
The plant is endemic to a limited area of the highlands of the Mexican Oaxaca state, where the Mazatec Indians ingest its fresh leaves or leaf preparations for divinatory rituals, healing ceremonies and medical purposes.
Since the late 1990s, the use of the plant as a ‘legal’ herbal hallucinogen has been increasing, partly due to its availability.
Smoking the dried and crushed leaves provides short-lived but intense hallucinations.
The effective dose of salvinorin A, the active ingredient of the plant, is comparable to that of the synthetic hallucinogens LSD or DOB.
The toxicity of Salvia divinorum is currently poorly understood."

Many of the members of the Salvia family contain differing amounts of Salvinorin.
I would recommend following the "all things in moderation" rule when ingesting any of the Salvias
Currently two studies are on going with salvinorin in the attempt to quantify the toxicity of the compound.

As for eating non documented members of the Mint Family, think about eating an unknown mushroom, there is always a possibility.
There is a lot of information available on specific members of Salvia and other members of the mint family, a little research is always a good thing when trying something others aren't eating regularly.

Posts: 4714
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When I am in the woods, and I find a new Salvia, I often taste it. I don't always like what I taste. If I like the taste, I might bring some to camp and make a tea. Slow and gentle, till I get to know the plant and how it works with my body. I haven't gotten acutely ill after tasting any of my local salvias. Sometimes I sure want to spit.

I use a number of salvias as seed crops, for their high doses of omega-3 oils.

I don't use any salvias as vegetables, cause I don't like the coarseness of the leaves. At my place, they get used for seasoning, tea, or aroma therapy.

Jondo Almondo
Posts: 203
Location: NNSW Australia
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
It would be a great shame to waste such a prolific and easy-to-grow edible resource.
Many gardens have no food plants, but do have salvias.
The leaves aren't particularly coarse if picked young or shade-grown, chia leaves being the mildest tasting and least coarse that I've tried.

Its news to me that other salvias contain salvinorin a, however, a little further digging shows that the compound has been found in 'significant quantities' [though only a fraction of the quantity in divinorum] in just 3 other species (out of 1000).
Salvinorin screening

There's probably also a difference between cooking them up in a balanced meal as opposed to chewing a huge cud of leaves intentionally for a prolonged period.
Goodbye moon men. Hello tiny ad:
permaculture bootcamp - learn permaculture through a little hard work
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!