White sage is a succulent herb that is often used as a spice or in cooking. Native American tribes inhabiting the United States’s Pacific coast widely use white sage or Salvia species. The seed of the plant formed the basis of the staple food of the native people, locally called ‘PINole’. However, people belonging to the Cahuilla did not harvest the white sage seeds because they did not like the taste of the herb.
In order to get the white sage leaves, you can harvest them before they are dried up. If you have a garden, you can cut the mature stem of the plant and then just keep the white sage leaves intact. However, since the white sage is an annual herb, it would be hard for you to preserve them. Thus, instead of preserving them, you can just collect them whenever you need them.
As mentioned earlier, the Cahuilla used the white sage seeds to make powder for drinking as part of their daily diet. It has a bitter taste, but they still used it. When they needed to boil water for teas, they would dip a piece of white sage leaves into the boiling water. The bitter taste was unbearable, so they added milk to dilute the flavor, which helped the tea drinker tolerate the bitterness. Even today, the Cahuilla people drink cahuilla tea. You can also make your own white sage tea for this purpose.
The other herbaceous plant that closely resembles Salvia is the piano or quail flower. Apianas and quails are part of the mulberry family, which includes bilberry, black walnut, and peanuts. While there are no records as to when these two plants became part of Native American cuisine, we do know that they were most likely introduced by Spanish explorers. In fact, there are many recipes in the New World that call for the leaves of the apiana plant. The same kind of bitter tasting leaves can also be used to make candy or tea.
The white sage plant is easy to grow from seed. In fact, you can grow the seeds indoors at about four to six inches deep in a sunny location until they bloom. Since the seeds are so small, they do not require a special container.
If you decide to try planting from seed, then you will need to remove about one inch of the stem on each cutting. You can do this by hand or with a knife, depending on how much time you want to spend on the plant. Then, you should take care to remove only the amount of roots that are exposed to light and air. Once you have removed all of the roots, you can separate the white sage plants into two groups. Either group can then be put in a large terracotta pot, or if you have a hole puncher, you can put the cuttings into small paper bags.
You should know that the tiny cuttings will need to be filled with well-draining soil in order to help them take root and stay healthy. The soil needs to have a lot of air and moisture, but it should not be soggy or clay-like. The soil mixture you use should be rich in nutrients, such as nitrogen, so that the plant has the best chance to grow. Your first step is to place the tiny white sage cuttings into a shallow tray filled with well-draining soil, and make sure that it is not exposed to direct sunlight.
Once the plants have had a chance to develop roots, you can remove them carefully from the trays and place them directly into a plastic bag filled with potting soil. Make sure that they are completely covered with this mixture, as well as topping up with water. This will allow them to get a head start on growing, as they will have lots of air and moisture to feed on. You should monitor their growth closely to see how they fare over the next few weeks. As long as you follow these general planting tips, you should end up with many healthy young plants which will blossom beautifully for many years to come!