Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Pineapple Sage



One of my favorite fall plants is Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans). In late September and early October it puts on quite a show with it's ruby red tubular spikes. The hummingbirds, soon to depart, love it and I'm sure they appreciate this last minute nectar source as most other plants are fading away. The fragrance, released when you crush a leaf, is indeed just like crushed pineapple.

It needs sun to flower nicely and will form a nice 3'x 3' clump. It has an airy, open-branched habit and will need watering during dry spells. It will wilt when deprived of water but will quickly bounce back after watering.

I've grown Pineapple Sage just about every year that I've been gardening. I couldn't find it one year at any of the nurseries and I really missed it that fall. It is not reliably hardy in north Alabama and I only recall one year when it returned after a mild winter. If I were more frugal and had more patience, I would try to root pieces for next year. I've heard too that you can dig it up, pot it and keep it over the winter. Maybe I'll try that this year.

I've also not been very adventuresome in the kitchen with the leaves of pineapple sage. I have tried in tea (delicious!) but have not cooked with it. I came across this web page which has recipes.

The plant is native to Mexico and Guatemala. In Mexico, it has traditionally been used to treat anxiety. There have been no scientific studies to back this although preliminary reports find that it has been effective an an antidepressant in treating mice. Now my question is - how can you tell if a mouse is depressed?


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18 comments:

Cosmo said...

To push your question further--how do you tell if a depressed mouse is feeling better? He finally get off his mouse couch? Anyway, great post--maybe its the smell of the leaves that perks up the mouse--or those lovely red flowers (and I love that last shot . . . )

tina said...

This is my choice for plant of the month this month so this is so funny. I love this guy. Good job on sharing as I see you like it too. I took several cuttings (10); which have ALL rooted so successfully it is really something else. I plan to save them in my garage. You might try this now as it is not too late to have some already to plant next spring. I haven't tried it in tea or anything as yet but really need to.

Jamie and Randy said...

How funny! How do you tell if a mouse is depressed and then feeling better? Ooooh the mysteries of life.

Zephyr said...

Phillip...i'm afraid that if i keep reading your blog, i'm going to find myself moving south...i love so many of the sages that bloom just in time to get nipped by the frost here.

Defining Your Home said...

Great blooms on the sage! I planted 3 in summer 2007 and 2 came back. One is planted next to a clumping bamboo and the other is tucked up in the salvia greggii in the east garden (butterfly garden). Both were 3x3 this past weekend (we're on vacation on Hatteras Island right now), so I hope they are now in bloom. My hummingbirds left before the bloom. Cameron

Gail said...

I am waiting for my PS to bloom, the red will be a nice treat in the garden. I always thought it was ornamental.

I have a few answers for the mouse riddle, but they are way too macabre!

Gail

Anonymous said...

Interesting! We call that Mexican Sage in Colorado. Hmm. Maybe the leaves are a little different.

http://www.coloradonga.org/documents/Week_14_PS_Mexican_Sage.jpg

It's a good bloomer here, too.

Roses and Lilacs said...

I've never seen it so I'm interested in learning about something new.

Had to laugh at the depressed mouse study. Wonder who paid for the grant to see if pineapple sage made mice happier?
Marnie

Garden Bloggers said...

I've never given this plant much thought but maybe I should because the flowers look like interesting subjects to photograph.

Skeeter said...

Oh, that is pretty sage. I recently picked up two Wild Thing Sages in a cherry-pink color. I have yet to get them into the ground. I have them sitting on the steps leading out the back door. Yesterday, I filmed a hummingbird busy sipping nectar from them! They do like Sage...

Annie in Austin said...

Your Pineapple sage looks great, Phillip - mine is much diminished this fall, but at least it's alive! Like you, I grow it every year - even in IL where it was always an annual.

I don't know how to tell if a mouse is depressed and had no idea there were medicinal uses for pineapple sage but have added leaves to tea and used them as garnishes. Between economics, politics and drought, this may be a good time to cook a pot of Pineapple Sage soup and see if it can un-depress a human!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I have grown Pinapple Sage in partial sun and it did very well. It didn't get watered like it should so it didn't get so large but the hummers sure didn't mind its size just that it had plenty of blooms.

I guess you would know if a mouse was depressed if Minnie asked Mickey what was bothering him. ??

Jess said...

Hope you're enjoying the new TV, and good for you for cutting out the channels you don't need :) Lovely photos...as always!!

Darla said...

Ihave pineapple sage this year and it is doing great. It is one of the easiest plants to propagate. Roots easily if you snip off a piece and put it in some dirt, also if you look at the bottom there are already roots on the stems. (sure you know this though) enjoyed your blog.

Les, Zone 8a said...

This plant seems to be making the rounds of the blogasphere. We planted the yellow leaf cultivar 'Golden Delicious' at work this year. The bright red flowers are really set off by the foliage. You can see a pic on my post titled a "A Fine Fall Day".

Carolyn gail said...

Good question on the mouse, Phillip. And the answer is : The swim test tells if it is depressed by how long it struggles and starts floating; submissiveness being one of the signs of depression . Take away its prozac and alcohol and the mouse becomes depressed ( much like us humans : -)

Love the pineapple sage. Unfortunately it's an annual here.

Sue said...

Hi Phillip ~ Pineapple sage is one of my favorites also; it's actually overwintered here in NJ a few times... Looking forward to reading your wonderful blog... Sue~

Jeff said...

This salvia usually overwinters here, but I always take a few cuttings just in case. It's one of the few things I root in water, since that's quick, takes up little space, and is one of the only ways to ensure that the plants never dry out over the winter. Oddly, this is one of the only plants I grow which will actually die if it's allowed to dry out in a small pot.