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PINEAPPLE SAGE (Salvia elegans) is, as its name indicates, a truly elegant addition to your decorative and herbal bed. Growing quite large as a graceful rounded shrub up to 5 feet when it is able to overwinter, which it can in warmer climes, or pot up to bring in for the winter. It produces long fiery red florescence in fall that make a spectacular show with other fall flowers and attract (and feed) hummingbirds and butterflies making their migration. But the most wonderful thing about this salvia is its fragrance -- a pronounced and true pineapple scent when bruised. The leaves and flowers make a delightful tea (hot or cold), or muddled in cocktails. The flavor is very fruity and pleasant, so it is a wonderful addition to desserts and entrees such as curry or as a garnish for ham or fruit salads or lemonade,or mixed with soft cheeses for a dynamite spread. Some even make a jelly using it. Tender perennial (mulch or pot up to over winter). And they make a dramatic addition to the flower vase, as you can see from the early November cuttings of dahlia, zinnias and pineapple sage below. 1 4" Pot shipped in Spring at a time appropriate to your growing zone.

MEDICINAL PROPERTIES: The name "Salvia" comes from the Latin "salvere," meaning "to heal." The Romans considered sage to be sacred and even had special harvesting ceremonies. All sages have traditionally been considered antispasmodic, antiseptic, astringent, diaphoretic, expectorant, nervine and tonic. Used as a folk remedy against colds, diarrhea, enteritis, venereal disease, excessive perspiration, snake bites, sore throats, toothaches and cancer. Recent clinical studies have shown it is useful lowering blood sugar in diabetics. Strongly flavored, so if brewing as a tea, try combining with dried fruits such as apple, or fragrant raspberry leaves. Combined with rosemary, and boiled to make a "tea", it can be used to restore gray hair to its natural color. Let the combo cool and steep in your refrigerator. After shampooing, use a cotton ball to apply to gray (or rinse if you are gray all over) and let dry. Use weekly. Restoration will take several weeks but it beats chemical hair colors, which can affect your health.

GROWING TIPS: Start indoors 6-12 weeks before last frost date, hardening off before transplanting. Once established keep pinched back (which you will do naturally as you use it for teas, dishes and potpourris) to keep it from becoming leggy.

SEED SAVING TIPS: In its second and subsequent years, it will flower and then produce little bell-shaped seed pods. It requires daily observation to catch the seeds when the pods turn brown and the seeds inside are black. You will lose some to the ground and some to the birds. A great task for children who are more patient and have the little fingers needed to pluck the ripe pods without destroying the plant. Store the harvested pods in a paper bag until drying is completed, then separate seeds from pod by merely shaking the bag.

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