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Clary Sage Salvia sclarea L. — Lamiaceae (mint) Family

Synonyms: Clary, Muscatel Sage

Part Used: Flowering tops and leaves

Harvest Season: Early- to mid-summer

Botanical Description: Clary sage is a biennial herbaceous member of the mint family. It grows up to three feet high with large hairy leaves and a stunning single stem flower stalk that is covered with fragrant pink and white flowers borne among leafy, violet-colored bracts. There are hundreds of species of sage, but clary is unique and virtually never mistaken for another plant.

Origin: South Europe, Ukraine, Russia, North Africa and small amounts in the U.S. Though native to the Mediterranean, it is cultivated throughout the world and is winter hardy to Zone 5.

Growing Conditions: Clary sage prefers full sun, a well-drained soil and average fertility. It is easily grown from seed.

Extraction Method: Steam distillation though there is some production of absolute

Yield: .5-1.5%

Oil Characteristics: The oil is colorless to pale yellow, watery with an herbaceous musty scent, slightly floral and fruity.

Aroma Profile: Top Note: sweet-herbaceous with a fresh bitter-sweet undertone Middle Note: soft, fresh herbaceous, with a sweet, bitter undertone Dry-out: balsamic, tea-like

Major Constituents: Linalyl acetate (up to 70%) and linalool (up to 25%), β-caryophyllene, myrcene.

History: Clary sage has a long history of use in cosmetics. More recently, it has been used as a tobacco flavoring.

Aromatherapy Benefits: Euphoric, centering, visualizing. Clary sage is valued for its ability to create a sense of relaxed euphoria and to ease tension in both mind and body.

It blends very well with lavender, as well as rose, geranium, neroli, jasmine and citrus.

Safety: Clary sage essential oil is considered non-toxic, non-irritating and non-sensitizing.

Quality Issues: Though not commonly adulterated, the essential oil is sometimes ‘spiked’ with synthetic linalool, linalyl acetate, or both. This is easily detectable with gas chromatography.

Regulatory Status: GRAS 182.20

Tim’s Notes: Clary Sage is a stunning herb when in flower. Though commonly grown in herb gardens the oil has been slow to become popular in the U.S. Its popularity is fast increasing and is presently one of the top 15 selling oils. Its needs are similar to Lavender, and the two are often found growing on the same farms.


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