Picking Sage and Great Advice from an Elder
Salvia apiana (White sage, bee sage, or sacred sage in English, qaashil to the Luiseno, shlhtaay or pilhtaay to the Kumeyaay, kasiile to the Tongva, we’wey to the Chumash, qas’ily to the Cahuilla, shaltai to the Paipai, lhtaay to the Cochimi) is an evergreen perennial shrub that is native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, found mainly in the coastal sage scrub habitat of Southern California and Baja California, on the western edges of the Mojave and Sonoran deserts.
S. apiana is widely used by Native American groups on the Pacific coast of the United States. The seed was a main ingredient of pinole, a staple food. The Cahuilla harvested large quantities of the seed that was mixed with wheat flour and sugar for gruel or biscuits. The leaves and stems were eaten by the Chumash and other tribes. Several tribes used the seed for removing foreign objects from the eye, similar to the way that Clary sage seeds were used in Europe. A tea from the roots was used by the Cahuilla women for healing and strength after childbirth. The leaves are also burnt by many native American tribes, with the smoke used in different purification rituals.