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Investigation of individual variability of sage (Salvia officinalis L.) based on morphological and chemical evaluation

D'Antuono, L.F., Neri, R., Moretti, A.
Acta horticulturae 2002 no.576
Salvia officinalis, branches, branching, color, cultivars, essential oils, leaf area, leaves, models, phyllotaxy, sage
Only a few sage cultivars have been selected until now, which can be still characterised by quite high individual variability. Further exploitation and analysis of individual variability seem to be necessary for successful improvement of populations. Eighty-five individuals of a sage population of a synthetic cultivar ('Antella') had been detail studied for their morphological and chemical characteristics, and had been grouped on bases of the following three sets of traits: 1./ plant habit, degree of branching, leaf colour, leaf shape, leaf arrangement, petiole length, shape of leaf apex and base as well as stem leafiness as qualitative characteristics; 2./ plant height, number of main branches, number of leaves, dry matter of leaf and stem, leaf area and specific leaf area as quantitative morphological traits; 3./ essential oil composition of the leaves. Each set of characters gave well-differentiated groups. Only a weak correspondence was observed among groups obtained on the basis of the three sets of traits. Very high variability was detected among individual plants, especially in the case of essential oil composition. Some plant habit types (tall, weakly branched) were found to be associated with high a-thujone content. An accelerated selection procedure for certain characteristics may be achieved by grouping according to our model, but effective selection for several traits of the above sets of characters is only possible by detailed investigations of plant individuals.