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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

26 February, 2017

Wild Clary: salad days

As with many of the wild varieties of the garden cultivated culinary herbs, wild clary (Salvia verbenaca) is a member of the labiate family; a family that includes mint, marjoram, thyme, basil and others. Otherwise known as the deadnettle family, it has a number of species of wild herb or flower with common characteristics including tubular flowers, hairy and square stems and pointed, serrated edged leaves.
Wild clary is the most common of the clary species you may find in the wild,  my field guide lists six of them but four are clearly escaped cultivars. Wild clary and the rare meadow clary are the only natives ones. Meadow clary is unlikely to be found in Dorset so wild clary is the only one we need to consider. It grows to about two feet tall, produces several stems and each four or five has whorls of  purple/blue tubular flowers. The flowers can be seen from June until September and later in this season some seed heads will be seen as well as active flowers. It can be found in bare patches amongst the grassy areas on lime soils, often near the coast.
The scented flowers are popular with bees and, as well as being used as cooking herb the leaves used to be popular in salads. it has medicinal properties and is considered good for stomach disorders although Culpepper suggests uses of it for a whole catalogue of complaints.
Wild Clary: salad days