Pineapple Sage: Hummingbirds and Herbal Flowered Persimmon Goat Cheese
Written and Photographed by Juliet Blankespoor
Roll out the red carpet for pineapple sage, flaunting their cherry-red bilabiate flowers atop slender racemes. Numerous pollinators flock to their elegant flowering branches, seeking nutritious pollen, sipping nectar, and dutifully transferring pollen from anther to stigma. Pineapple Sage’s entourage includes: butterflies, bees, ants and hummingbirds, whose penetrating beaks imbibe the precious nectar nestled deep in the recesses of their tubular corolla. Pineapple Sage boldly flirts with frost, blooming long after most plants have sensibly finished with the business of flowering and fruiting. When pineapple sage does encounter the icy embrace of frost, it browns and withers, unaccustomed to its touch, as they herald from the southern lands of Mexico and Guatemala.
Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans, Lamiaceae) is in the mint family, and very closely related (same genus) to garden sage, white sage and the ornamental bedding sages. It is a perennial shrub in warmer climates (zone 8 plus) and grown as an annual in temperate locales. Some of its human adorers in colder areas offer the plant refuge in their home or greenhouse over the winter, planting it back outside in the spring after the danger of frost has past.
Purple Sage's flowers are edible and its pineapple-scented leaves are used as a pungent culinary herb. The flowers have a sweet and savory flavor and can be used to adorn most any dish; try them on salads, cakes, and salsas. Ice cubes fashioned from the blossoms are beautiful; try on these fancy-pants ice cubes to gussy up your favorite herbal iced teas.
Recipe for Herbal Flowered Persimmon Goat Cheese:
- 8 ounces of soft goat cheese
- 2 teaspoons of finely chopped fresh rosemary
- Handful of pineapple sage flowers, stripped from the stalk
- Half handful of calendula “petals”
- Kiss of honey and fresh wild persimmon pulp (peck, not smooch)
If you don’t have some of these ingredients on-hand, try freaking out. That always works out so well for me, and my family especially benefits. Alternately, you could use figs in lieu of the persimmon pulp, and any other edible flowers in place of the calendula and pineapple sage.
Meet The Green Mastermind Behind Blog Castanea:
JULIET BLANKESPOOR is the founder, primary instructor, and Creative Director of the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine, an online school serving thousands of students from around the globe. She's a professional plant-human matchmaker and bonafide plant geek, with a degree in botany and over 30 years of experience teaching and writing about herbalism, medicine making, and organic herb cultivation. Juliet’s lifelong captivation with medicinal weeds and herb gardening has birthed many botanical enterprises over the decades, including an herbal nursery and a farm-to-apothecary herbal products business.
These days, she channels her botanical obsession through her writing and photography in her online programs, on her personal blog Castanea, and in her new book, The Healing Garden: Cultivating and Handcrafting Herbal Remedies. Juliet and her family reside in a home overrun with houseplants and books in Asheville, North Carolina.
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