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Right now, the evergreen plant seems to be rising up strongly compared to its surroundings. On closer inspection, a greenish grey hairs are visible on the leaves. In summer, the sage plant develops small, mostly purple flowers, which insects love. The leaf is velvety to touch – when rubbed, it releases an aromatic fragrance. This indicates a high level of essential oils.
This is one of the reasons sage is commonly used in bath essences, oils and – due to its anti-perspirant properties – deodorants. The tannins contained in sage have an astringent and structuring effect on inflammatory mucosal processes. The bitter compounds, on the other hand, have a harmonising and toning effect on our digestive system. WALA medicines make particular use of the anti-inflammatory effect of this medicinal plant. Dr. Hauschka natural cosmetics harness its deodorising and regulating properties, among others.
Even when covered in snow, the green leaves of the medicinal plant are still recognisable.
At home in the Alb
Sage is grown on various plots of land in the WALA medicinal plant garden, but also in the Swabian Alb, about 12 kilometres away. ‘We cultivate sage in four locations spanning around 338 metres of beds* to meet the high demand for remedies and natural cosmetics,’ says Markus Greiner, gardener in the WALA medicinal plant garden. One bed here has been being harvested for seven years – a great testament to the efforts of the gardeners.
*One metre of bed: 1 x 1.2 m.
Successful cultivation attempts
Normally, the plants have to be replanted every two to three years. The reason for this is large-scale fungal infestation, which results in the plant being completely infested and eventually dying. These fungi are ‘soil-borne’ pathogens, i.e. pathogens present in the soil. Thanks to the better soil conditions, the plants in the Swabian Alb are not affected by this. Here, sage defies external influences and is only unable to cope with extremely wet and cold conditions.
A rich harvest
We mainly use the sage leaves in our medicines and Dr. Hauschka natural cosmetics. Here, we are guided by the principle of a biodynamic circular economy; the seeds are grown by us and are sown in March. The first seedlings are then isolated (transplanted), placed in small trays and repotted. We don’t just devote this level of effort to sage: ‘We always try to create the best growing conditions for all medicinal plants,’ Markus Greiner adds.
A new cycle begins
As soon as the warmth of spring arrives, the offspring can move into the bed. In order to give the plant enough time to flourish, there is usually no pruning in the first year. The plant can then be harvested in the second year. The harvest takes place in winter or summer, depending on the remedy or natural cosmetic for which the medicinal plant will be used for.
A new sage cycle begins this way every year.
Text: Rosa Thomas