Pineapple sage, often called also tangerine sage, is a fruit-sage species of the mint family. It is originally from Mexico and Guatemala. For some years, the herb enjoys great popularity with us, where several plants are offered as „pineapple sage“. Especially common is the species Salvia rutilans and its variety Salvia rutilans „Pineapple Scarlet“ which can be found under the same name in the trade.
Profile of pineapple sage:
Scientific name: Salvia elegans
Plant family: mint family (Lamiaceae)
Other names: tangerine sage
Sowing time / Planting time: May – June
Flowering period: July – November
Harvest time: all-year
Useful plant parts: leaves, flowers
Location: off-sun to partially shaded
Soil quality: sandy, nutritious, humus-rich
These information are for temperate climate!
Use as a medicinal herb: lower blood pressure
Use as aromatic herb: tea, desserts, sorbets, fruit salads.
Plant characteristics and classification of pineapple sage
Origin and occurrence of pineapple sage
It is originally from Mexico and Guatemala.
Plant order of pineapple sage
The pineapple sage is assigned to the genus Salvia, sage. More than nine hundred species belong to this genus.
Characteristics of the pineapple sage
Pineapple sage is an upright subshrub that is between 60 and 80 cm (24 and 32 in) high and 40 to 60 cm (15 to 24 in) wide. The shoots grow loosely branched.
The leaves are soft hairy, heart-shaped, up to six cm (2.4 in) long and have a sawn edge. The plant owes its name to the fruity-fresh fragrance and taste of the leaves: they actually remind of pineapple or honeydew melon.
From July to November, the tips of the branches form bright red lip-shaped blossoms that stand in loose panicles. They give the delicious herb an additional visual appeal and attract numerous insects such as bees and bumblebees.
The pollination is done by birds, mostly hummingbirds. After flowering, small nutlets develop that contain the seeds of the plant.
Pineapple sage – cultivation and care
The location for pineapple sage should be off-sun to partially shaded and warm. Since the species is very sensitive to frost, in cooler regions, the culture in a pot on balcony or terrace is recommended. In mild regions, it can also be planted in a sheltered spot near the house wall in the garden.
The ideal substrate consists of nutrient- and humus-rich soil, which is mixed with a little sand for better drainage. In the lower third of the pot, a reserve fertilization of horn shavings is distributed. In the garden you can work some compost into the soil before planting.
In early summer, place it in a spacious pot with a volume of five to ten liters (1.5 to 3 gal). In the garden pineapple sage is planted after the ice saints. Keep a planting distance of at least 40 cm (16 in) in the bed.
You can multiply pineapple sage by cuttings. When pruning or during the summer, cut off some shoot tips whose stems have not yet lignified. Remove the leaves to the top three to four leaves and place the branches in pots with a sandy soil mixture. Place the cuttings in a warm and partially shaded place and keep them constantly moist. So they usually root soon.
Water the pineapple sage abundant, preferably with rainwater.
From spring to summer, the plant needs extra nutrients. Homemade nettle swill is very suitable for this. Potted plants are only repotted when the vessel is completely rooted.
From March, you can cut back the subshrub. This will prevent pineapple sage from fully logging and lignifying over time. Thereafter, the plant usually sprouts strong again.
Harvest and conservation
Pineapple sage can be harvested year-round. In summer, however, its aroma is strongest.
The leaves can be preserved by drying. However, they lose their aroma.
Diseases and pests
Pineapple sage is resistant to diseases and pests. Sometimes thrips occur.
Pineapple sage is a not hardy. You can either try to cut it back and put some brushwood or similar on the rest of the plant or before the first frost, plants cultured in the pot must be brought to the house in a cool and bright place. Ideal are a frost-free greenhouse or an unheated conservatory with temperatures around ten degrees Celsius. During winter, water the plant only moderately, but the soil should not dry out completely.
Use of the pineapple sage
Pineapple sage in the kitchen
With its fruity taste it goes well with summer desserts and desserts such as sorbets or fruit salads. The leaves can also be processed into refreshing teas or lemonades. Since they are visually very appealing, they are well suited as an edible garnish on the plate. It gives Asian and sweet and sour dishes a special touch.
Preparation of a pineapple sage tea
If you want to make a tea from the leaves of the pineapple sage, soften the leaves in hot water. If the leaves are poured over with boiling water, the tea tastes rather tart and loses its pineapple taste.
Pineapple sage as a medicinal herb
As a medicinal plant the pineapple sage plays no role. The plant is used only in Mexican folk medicine to lower blood pressure or to treat anxiety.
Pineapple sage can be used for these ailments and diseases
- lower blood pressure
- treat anxiety
Ask your doctor or pharmacist. Visiting this page can not replace the visit to the doctor. For serious or unclear complaints, consult your doctor.
Buy pineapple sage – What to pay attention to?
You can buy pineapple sage in specialized garden center or flower markets or online.
The price per plant is about 4 to 5 € / $.
Also available online is dried leaves, which is quite expensive. (About 20 to 25 EUR/$ per 100 grams (3.5 oz).