Salvia sclarea, the clary or clary sage, is a biennial or short-lived herbaceous perennial in the genus Salvia. It is native to the northern Mediterranean Basin, along with some areas in north Africa and Central Asia. The plant has a lengthy history as an herb, and is currently grown for its essential oil.
Salvia sclarea reaches 3 to 4 ft (0.91 to 1.22 m) in height, with thick square stems that are covered in hairs. The leaves are approximately 1 ft (0.30 m) long at the base, .5 ft (0.15 m) long higher on the plant. The upper leaf surface is rugose, and covered with glandular hairs. The flowers are in verticils, with 2-6 flowers in each verticil, and are held in large colorful bracts that range in color from pale mauve to lilac or white to pink with a pink mark on the edge. The lilac or pale blue corolla is approximately 1 in (2.5 cm), with the lips held wide open. The cultivar S. sclarea 'Turkestanica' bears pink stems, petiolate leaves, and white, pink-flecked blossoms on spikes to 30 inches (76 cm) tall.
Clary seeds have a mucilaginous coat, which is why some old herbals recommended placing a seed into the eye of someone with a foreign object in it so that it could adhere to the object and make it easy to remove. This practice is noted by Nicholas Culpeper in his Complete Herbal (1653), who referred to the plant as "clear-eye".
It has also been used to induce labour and throughout labour to bring on contractions.
- Clebsch, Betsy; Barner, Carol D. (2003). The New Book of Salvias. Timber Press. p. 261. ISBN 978-0-88192-560-9.
- Mark Griffiths. Index of Garden Plants, 2nd American Edition. (Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, 1995; ISBN 0-88192-246-3).
- The Complete Herbal at Bibliomania, with link to entry for Clary, or More Properly Clear-Eye.
- Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs
- Kintzios, Spiridon E. (2000). Sage: The Genus Salvia. CRC Press. p. 20. ISBN 978-90-5823-005-8.
- Leffingwell, John C.; Stallings, John W.; Sellers, Franklin O.; Lloyd, Robert A. & Kane Jr., Franklin C. (1974). "Clary Sage Production in the Southeastern United States". 6th International Congress of Essential Oils.