Texas sage, also known as silver leaf, purple sage, cenizo, and wild lilac, is an evergreen plant that grows wild in Southwest and northern Mexico. If you’ve ever seen one of Texas’ purple fields, you know what Texas sage looks like.
Yet, despite its similar appearance to the herb of the same name, let’s find out if you can eat Texas sage.
Although Texas sage is mainly used as a popular ornamental shrub, you can also consume it. It’s a common herbal medicine and is often used in herbal tea. Since Texas sage is easy to cultivate, you can grow it in your garden to have access at all times. However, its taste is not ideal as a substitute for fresh sage in recipes.
Texas sage goes by many names, but it’s not part of the sage family. Although it’s similar in appearance to common sage, it’s a member of the figwort family. Figwort species are often used as herbal medicines. Texas sage is no exception. It comes in several cultivars, as seen below.
|Growth||Does It Tolerate Poor Soil?|
|Silverado||6’ tall and 6’wide||Yes, drought-resistant|
|Desperado||4.5’ x 4.5’ tall||Yes|
|Compact||36” tall and wide||Yes|
|Heavenly Cloud||6-8’ tall and wide||Yes, drought-resistant|
|Green Cloud||6’ tall and 6’ wide||Yes, drought-resistant|
|Rio Bravo||4-7’ tall and wide||Yes, drought-resistant|
The simplest and best way to consume Texas sage is in tea. Since it has a somewhat unpleasant taste, it’s not something you’d want to incorporate into your regular savory dishes.
Where To Find Texas Sage
Texas sage grows throughout Texas and other parts of the Southwest. You can also find it in northern Mexican states. In addition, Texas sage grows in some Southeastern states as a cultivar. It’s also a popular ornamental shrub. When it blooms, it attracts various pollinators, including bees and butterflies.
If you want to own a Texas sage plant, you can buy one from a nursery. However, it grows wild, making it easy to find and harvest. It thrives in dry, hot conditions and rocky cliffsides, making Texas its perfect environment.
You’ll commonly see Texas sage as a silvery-green evergreen. However, its purple flowers will burst open when a rare monsoon comes through. Since its bloom season depends entirely on the infrequent rain, many Texans call it a barometer bush.
Texas Sage Characteristics
Texas sage’s physical characteristics are why it’s often mistaken for a member of the sage family. Its leaves have a similar silver sheen that you’d expect on a sage plant. The leaves appear a bit furry like sage, too. And, like the common kitchen herb, Texas sage almost always has small purple flowers.
The main difference between Texas sage and common sage is the taste. Common sage has a savory flavor that works well in meat dishes. On the other hand, Texas sage has a flavor that’s more bitter and unpleasant. As a result, it works best in tea because you can mask the taste more easily.
Uses for Texas Sage
Despite its flavor, the most common use for Texas sage is as an herbal remedy. However, consuming it is the only way to take advantage of its medicinal properties. A salve or poultice won’t deliver the same benefits.
Medicinal Uses for Texas Sage
Texas sage has several medicinal uses and a long history in the Southwest. Specifically, it’s common for Texas sage to be used for:
- Antimicrobial properties
- Cough remedy
- Difficulty sleeping
In addition, there’s some evidence Texas sage tea can help promote good liver health. However, those studies are still underway. Nevertheless, all evidence indicates Texas sage won’t have any ill effects if you consume it.
Still, if you want to drink Texas sage tea as a supplement to your everyday regimen, talk to your doctor first. You’ll want to ensure no interactions with your current medications.
How To Prepare Texas Sage
The most common way to consume Texas sage is tea. Unfortunately, its flavor isn’t very appealing, so adding ingredients that water down the taste is typically best. Fortunately, Texas sage tea is easy to make.
1. Harvest the Leaves
The first step to making Texas sage tea is to harvest the leaves. Take care not to break off any stems when plucking the leaves since they can add a bitter taste. Instead, pinch them off where the leaves meet the stalks.
2. Dry the Leaves
To make your tea, you’ll need to dry the harvested leaves. To dry the leaves quickly, you can use your oven. Put the oven to its lowest setting, then place the leaves inside, checking every 10-15 minutes until they’re dry. If you have more time, you can use a food dehydrator or hang the leaves to air dry.
3. Measure Your Leaves
Next, you’ll need to measure out your leaves. You should use approximately one ounce, or two tablespoons, of dried leaves for every quart of hot water.
4. Let Your Tea Steep
Let your Texas sage tea steep for about 30 minutes or until it reaches your desired strength. Then, remove the leaves and drink.
Texas Sage FAQ
Still, have questions about Texas sage? Here are the answers to some commonly-asked questions.
Is Texas sage a landscape plant?
Texas sage is quite popular as an ornamental shrub. It can reach up to 8 feet tall when left to grow independently. As a shrub, it doesn’t require much maintenance or pruning, making it an easy plant to own and grow. It’s also drought-tolerant, so it’s ideal for desert conditions.
What is the nutritional value of Texas sage?
Texas sage doesn’t have any nutritional value as an edible herb. However, it has reported medicinal values. You should always talk to your doctor before consuming anything to treat a specific ailment.
Can you eat Texas sage flowers?
You can consume the flowers on the Texas sage plant. Although Texas sage tea can consist of just the leaves, many people add the dried Texas sage flowers to the mix.
Is Texas sage toxic to animals?
Texas sage doesn’t have any toxic qualities. It’s safe for animals to eat, including housepets. You’ll also often see deer, horses, and other wild animals eating it.