Wild Sage

(Salvia horminoides) In the Cotswolds, it is said to be a legacy of the Roman occupation of Britain. The soldiers, they say, dropped the seed as they marched across the country. In proof of this, country people will point out that it often flourishes along the line of old Roman roads (Briggs. 1974). It is a true native, though, even if found only locally, but it can be quite frequent in grassy places.

The seed drunk with wine was reckoned to be aphrodisiac, a view to which Culpeper subscribed, but there were less recondite uses in medicine. A decoction, for instance, was used in Lincolnshire for sprains (Gutch & Peacock). But the other prescriptions are much older, and less particular, like this 15th century remedy: "for botches: Take ... oculus Christi and vervain, and make a plaster of them; and lay it from the boil two finger-breadths, and again put it as far further. And so do till it come to the place where you will break it". (Dawson. 1934). Hardly a model of clarity. Oculus Christi, is, of course Christ's Eye ("most blasphemously called Christ's Eye, because it cures Diseases of the Eye" (Culpeper)).

There were some veterinary usages as well, noticed by Martin in his account of the Western Isles. Horses were wormed with it, he said, and "a quantity . chewed between one's teeth, and put into the ears of cows and sheep that become blind, cures them, and perfectly restores their sight, of which there are many fresh instances both in Skye and Harris, by persons of great integrity".

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