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Tenerife herbs - Canary Island Sage

Updated on September 11, 2015

Canary Islands Sage is a medicinal herb found in Tenerife

Canary Islands Sage (Salvia canariensis ) is an endemic species found growing, as its name suggests on the Canary Islands. It is found in Tenerife, La Palma, Gran Canaria, La Gomera, El Hierro, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.

This is quite unusual because while many plants can be found on one or more of the islands there are not that many that are found on all of them. Fuerteventura and Lanzarote are too hot and dry for many types of plant and tree.

Canary Island Sage, which is known in Spanish as "Salvia morisca" or "Garitopa" is an important medicinal herb of the islands, and has been used in traditional folk medicine.

It is one of many endemic herbs that grow on the islands that have been utilised like this in herbal medicine.

Canary Island Sage flower
Canary Island Sage flower | Source
Canary Island sage bush
Canary Island sage bush | Source

Description of the Canary Island Sage

Canary Island Sage grows as a bush and can reach well over a metre in height. It can cover quite a large area of ground, especially if it has established lots of new plants growing around the older bushes and clumps of the plant.

It is found growing on rough ground and wasteland and readily self-seeds. It withstands drought well and is not fussy about the soil it is growing in and will often be found in very arid and rocky volcanic areas.

It has purplish pink flower heads and distinctive arrow-shaped leaves that have a whitish and woolly underside.

Canary Island Sage is not as aromatic as the commonly used Garden Sage (Salvia officinalis ) but nevertheless has strong antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties. It really is a very useful herb.

Canary Island Sage can be used as an antiseptic to treat wounds and ulcerations, and also can be utilised as a treatment for gingivitis and inflammation of the mouth when it is gargled and swilled as a mouthwash. Used this way it is a remedy for tonsillitis.

Canary Island Sage has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels and also helps bring down fevers. It is further said to act as a general tonic for the body.

Like other forms of Sage, the Canary Island Sage can be made into a herbal tea or an infusion.

Canary Island Sage is a very important herb found in the Canary Islands but a word of caution is nevertheless needed because if taken internally in large amounts, like other species of Salvia, it may cause convulsions in some susceptible people. Treated with respect though the Canary Island Sage is a very useful wild plant.

It is surprising not to see the plant more widely grown in gardens and on farms. Many people on the islands would probably not be aware of it or know what it can be used for which is a shame. It seems that old ways of knowledge are often being lost nowadays, and that includes the use of wild herbs as medicine for our health problems.

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