I bought a small plant of golden sage, which has variegated leaves. The nursery worker did not know if this type is edible. The nursery also carried wild sage, which she said was not edible. Can I use the golden sage as an herb?
Sages that have variegated gold leaves (Salvia officinalis; ‘Aurea’) and those that are blushed with purple (S. officinalis; ‘Purpurea’) differ from regular culinary sage mostly in appearance, and are completely safe to eat. However, because nurseries sometimes use chemicals that are not approved for use on edible plants on plants that they sell as ornamentals, I suggest waiting for new growth to appear, then gathering the new leaves for use in the kitchen.
Some wild sages are toxic. For eating, it’s best to stick with culinary sage (S. officinalis) or Spanish sage (S. lavandulifolia).
—Barbara Pleasant, contributing editor