(Salvia sclarea, Linn.), a perennial herb of the natural order
Labiatae. The popular name is a corruption of the specific. In the
discussion on sage will be found the significance of the generic name.
Syria is said to be the original home of clary, but Italy is also
mentioned. The presumption is in favor of the former country, as it is
the older, and the plant was probably carried westward from it by
soldiers or mercha
ts. In England clary was known prior to 1538, when
Turner published his garden lore, but in America, except in foreigners'
gardens, it is rarely seen. It has been listed in seedsmen's catalogs
Description.--The large, very broad, oblong, obtuse, toothed, woolly
haired, radical leaves are grayish green and somewhat rumpled like those
of Savoy cabbage. From among them rise the 2-foot tall, square,
branching, sparsely leaved stems, which during the second year bear
small clusters of lilac or white showy flowers in long spikes. The
smooth brown or marbled shining seeds retain their germinating power for
Cultivation.--The plants thrive in any well-drained soil. Seed may be
sown during March in drills 18 inches apart where the plants are to
remain or in a seedbed for transplanting 18 inches asunder in May. Clean
cultivation is needed throughout the summer until the plants have full
possession of the ground. In August the leaves may be gathered, and if
this harvest be judiciously done the production of foliage should
continue until midsummer of the second year, when the plants will
probably insist upon flowering. After this it is best to rely upon new
plants for supplies of leaves, the old plants being pulled.
Uses.--In America, the leaves are little used in cookery, and even in
Europe they seem to be less popular than formerly, sage having taken
their place. Wine is sometimes made from the plant when in flower. As an
ornamental, clary is worth a place in the hardy flower border.