Clary Sage

Salvia sclarea

Clary Sage

Family: Lamiaceae

Other Common Names: Europe sage
Weed class: A
Year Listed: 1998
Native to: Asia and Europe
Is this Weed Toxic?:

not known to be


Legal listings:

This plant is also on the Washington State quarantine list. It is prohibited to transport, buy, sell, offer for sale, or distribute plants or plant parts of quarantined species into or within the state of Washington or to sell, offer for sale, or distribute seed packets of seed, flower seed blends, or wildflower mixes of quarantined species into or within the state of Washington. Please see WAC 16-752 for more information on the quarantine list. For questions about the quarantine list, contact the Washington State Department of Agriculture's Plant Services Program at (360) 902-1874 or email PlantServices@agr.wa.gov.


Why Is It a Noxious Weed?

Clary sage invades range land and poses a threat to forage production and plant biodiversity by displacing more desirable species. Clary sage is a close relative of Mediterranean sage (Salvia aethiopis), another Class A noxious weed in Washington.

How would I identify it?

General Description

Clary sage is a much-branched and upright biennial or perennial herb that can grow 6 feet tall. The entire plant is hairy and has a strong odor due to an essential oil.

Flower Description

Many whorls of flowers occur on upper parts of stems. Each whorl has a pair of various colored bracts under it, bracts about 1/2 to 1 inch long. Flower petals fused to form two ‘lips’, upper lip is purple and lower lip is whitish, though colors may vary.

Leaf description

Leaves are oppositely arranged. Lower leaves have stalks (petioles) and upper leaves are smaller and have shorter stalks.  Leaves have a wrinkled texture and have toothed to double toothed margins. Leaf blades up to 8 inches long.

Stem description

Stems branching toward their tips.

Fruit Seed Description

Flowers form 4 nutlets, with each nutlet containing one seed.

May Be Confused With

Beside Mediterranean sage, clary sage is similar to meadow clary (Salvia pratensis), another Class A noxious weed. One difference is its larger bracts under the flowers, compared to the smaller bracts of the meadow clary. For help with identification, contact your county noxious weed coordinator.

Where does it grow?

Clary sage can grow in eastern and western Washington. It grows on slopes (with Ponderosa pine in eastern WA), with well-drained soil, less well-drained meadow sites, roadsides and other disturbed places. Please click here to see a county level distribution map of clary sage in Washington.

How Does it Reproduce?

Clary sage spreads by seed.

How Do I Control It?

Mechanical Control

Hand-pulling or digging can be effective, especially for small infestations. Be sure to dispose of plants properly and make sure all flowerheads go in the trash to prevent new infestations.

Herbicide Control

Herbicide information is currently not included in the PNW Weed Management Handbook for clary sage but check back as this resource is continually being updated. See the additional links below for information or contact county noxious weed coordinator. Revegetate with desirable species.

For More Information

See our postcard for early detection information about meadow clary and clary sage.

See our Written Findings for more information about clary sage (Salvia sclarea).

Stevens County NWCB Fact Sheet on clary sage

Additional Photos