No. 6 in a Series of 253,486.

SAGE (Salvia).—Sage is so called from its wisdom, for it is the wisest of all herbs. It is true, of course, that this is a relative measurement, and that the standard of wisdom among herbs is not very high. Nevertheless, the reputation for wisdom that sage enjoys is not entirely without merit. Most species of sage may be trusted to render a competent opinion on straightforward questions of constitutional law or investment planning. In a 1982 experiment in Richmond, Virginia, the entire House of Delegates was replaced with an equal number of potted Salvia officinalis plants without any discernible difference in the tenor and quality of the legislation; indeed, it was not until a cable television channel in Roanoke began carrying live coverage of the debates that there was any objection at all to the replacement.

The risible superstition that consuming the leaves of sage will increase the wisdom of the consumer is now thoroughly exploded.

In the home garden, sage prefers well-drained soil, plenty of moisture, and frequent readings from such popular middlebrow authors as Tom Wolfe and J. D. Salinger. For this purpose the gardener may find it convenient to keep a small bookshelf in the conservatory or tool shed. A few volumes will suffice, as sage has little long-term memory and will gladly hear the same book over and over again with no sign of diminished enjoyment.

Sage is governed by a prefect who reports directly to the mint family.