Salvia azurea Lam. - Blue Sage

Salvia azurea plant

Family - Lamiaceae

Stems - To 1.5m tall, 4-angled (the angles rounded), carinate, herbaceous, typically short pubescent (at least in upper portions) with recurving hairs.

Salvia azurea stem

Leaves - Cauline leaves opposite, linear to lanceolate or oblong(or combinations of the three), sessile or short petiolate, to +8cm long, 2cm wide, variously pubescent, serrate to denticulate or entire, typically well over 20 in number on the stem.

Inflorescence - Terminal spikes of whorled flowers (verticillasters). Typically 1-4 flowers per node. Flowers on pedicels to 6mm long, recurved pubescent. Each cluster typically subtended by a reduced foliaceous bract.

Flowers - Corolla blue, strongly bilabiate, to 2.5cm long, pubescent externally. Lower lip much larger than upper lip, to +1cm broad, 3-lobed. Central lobe notched at apex. Lateral lobes much smaller than central lobe. Upper lip galeate, entire, to 1cm long. Stamens 2, covered by upper lip. Calyx bilabiate, with 12-13 ridges(nerves), to 1cm long, pubescent. Upper lip to +2mm long, acute. Lower lip slightly smaller to equaling upper lip. Ovary of 4 nutlets. Nutlets to -3mm long, brown and glabrous when mature.

Salvia azurea corolla Corolla.

Salvia azurea calyxCalyx.

Flowering - July - September.

Habitat - Prairies, glades, bluffs, disturbed sites, roadsides, railroads.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This striking species can be found growing wild mainly in the southwestern corner of Missouri. It is cultivated elsewhere.
According to Steyermark, the typical variety found is var. grandiflora Benth. which has recurving pubescence on the stem. This plant is pictured above. Another variety, var. azurea has a pubescence which is more straight, spreading or ascending. This latter variety is less common.
The seeds of this plant, like all the mints, are small nutlets which can be found inside and at the base of the calyx. I mention this because I have observed people digging the plant to take home and grow. If you want to grow the plant, COLLECT THE SEEDS!!

Photographs taken at Schumaker Park, 8-2-00, and in Conecuh National Forest, AL., 10-23-04.


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