Those who know sage as a spice used in stuffing will be shocked at the scent and flavor of this sweet herb. Even its appearance is drastically different: it has pretty, bright red flowers and smooth light green leaves instead of the drab blooms and thick, textured foliage of common sage. Its value is threefold because not only is it ornamental, but it smells heavenly and tastes delicious. Rubbing the leaves releases the fruity odor. Boiled, they make a great tea which is well complemented by a little honey. You can eat part of the flower like honeysuckle, and it is very sweet. Use fresh or dried leaves with foods that are enhanced by the light tropical flavor of pineapple. Dice a few leaves into fruit salad, or heighten the flavor of cheeses and desserts. Add a tropical twist to jams and jellies or vinegars and marinades.
Besides, a plant this stunning should be included in any garden or landscape.
Like Salvia officinalis, pineapple sage, also a member of the great Labiatae family, has antibiotic properties and a tea made of the flowers and a few leaves is an effective treatment for chesty coughs, colds and blocked noses. Infuse 1/4 cup of fresh flowers and leaves in 1 cup of boiling water, stand for 5 minutes and then strain and sweeten with honey. Lemon juice added to the tea makes an effective gargle and was once popular with chanters and singers in religious ceremonies, who believed it strengthened the voice.
A poultice of crushed flowers will quickly soothe bee stings and mosquito bites and a bundle of flowering sprigs tied in a piece of muslin and tossed under the hot water tap in the bath will soften and soothe sunburned and wind-chapped skin. The crushed flowers were also used as a cosmetic by country girls, who would rub them on their cheeks to give a blush. Mashed into a little boiling water and left to stand until pleasantly warm, the flowers were also rubbed into the nails to strengthen and lightly colour them.
Written by David Hamilton from the Elizabeths Herb Nursery in Bathurst. South Africa