Salvia sclarea (clary or clary sage), is a biennial or short-lived perennial herb in the genus Salvia, native to Europe east to central Asia. It grows to 1 m tall, with opposite leaves 10-20 cm long and 6-12 cm broad, with a thick woolly texture. The flowers are in several clusters of 2-6 together on the stem, 2.5-3.5 cm long, white to pink or pale purple. Its strong and unusual odour is considered unpleasant by some, while others find it very attractive.
The distilled essential oil is occasionally found in specialty stores such as natural food stores and "scent shops". The odour is sometimes described as "sweaty", spicy or "hay-like". Clary seeds have a mucilaginous coat, and so old herbals recommended putting a seed into the eye of someone with a foreign object in it, to adhere to the object and make it easy to remove.
The leaves have been used as a vegetable in cookery. Clary was used as a flavouring in ales before the use of hops became common, and also in wine, notably muscatel. It is also used as a flavouring in some tobacco products. Clary can be used as a tea or in aromatherapy, and is supposed to have a calming effect.
It is also the primary ingredient in Norambrolide, a supplement which uses unfounded claims of fat catabolism properties of this plant extract.
- Huxley, A. et al., eds. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan.