Herb: Clary

Latin name: Salvia sclarea

Family: Labiatae

Medicinal use of Clary:

Clary has been perceived both as a weaker version of sage (Salvia officinalis) and also as a significant herb in its own right. An antispasmodic and aromatic plant, it is used mainly to treat digestive problems such as wind and indigestion. It is also regarded as a tonic, calming herb that helps relieve period pain and pre-menstrual problems. Owing to its oestrogen-stimulating action, it is most effective when levels of this hormone are low. The whole plant, and especially the leaves, is antispasmodic, appetizer, aromatic, astringent, balsamic, carminative, pectoral and tonic. It is useful in treating disorders of the stomach and kidneys and is a valuable remedy for complaints associated with the menopause, particularly hot flushing. It should not be prescribed for pregnant women. The leaves can be used fresh or dried, for drying they are harvested before the plant comes into flower. The seed forms a thick mucilage when it is soaked for a few minutes in water. This is efficacious in removing small particles of dust from the eyes. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is "Euphoric".

Description of the plant:


100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)



Habitat of the herb:

Rocky igneous slopes, mixed deciduous and coniferous woodland, shale banks and roadsides to 2000 metres in Turkey.

Edible parts of Clary:

Leaves - raw or cooked. A strong, warm, aromatic taste and odour. They are used mainly as a flavouring in cooked foods, they are similar to sage (S. officinalis). The leaves can be dipped in batter and cooked to make delicious fritters. Flowers - raw. A pleasant taste, they can be sprinkled on chopped salads, or made into a tea. The plant is sometimes used as a hop substitute in flavouring beer, imparting considerable bitterness and intoxicating properties - it either makes people dead drunk or insanely exhilarated. The leaves have also been used to adulterate wine and give it a muscatel flavour.

Other uses of the herb:

An essential oil is obtained from the flowering stems. Called "Muscatel oil", it has an ambergris aroma and is used in soaps, cosmetics, as a fixative in perfumery etc. A drying oil is obtained from the seed, it is used in varnishes, paints etc.

Propagation of Clary:

Seed - can be sown in situ during spring. Alternatively seed can be sown in August/September to overwinter, it will then produce larger plants Thinnings can be transplanted. The seed remains viable for 3 years.

Cultivation of the herb:

Rocky igneous slopes, mixed deciduous and coniferous woodland, shale banks and roadsides to 2000 metres in Turkey.

Known hazards of Salvia sclarea:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.