Skip to main content

Salvia L.

Sp.Pl. 2:23 (1753)
Name Status

Scientific Description

Common name. Sages. Family Lamiaceae.

Habit and leaf form. Shrubs, or herbs; evergreen; bearing essential oils. Plants unarmed. Annual, or perennial. Leaves cauline. Plants with neither basal nor terminal concentrations of leaves. Young stems usually tetragonal. To 0.15–1 m high. Leaves small to medium-sized; not fasciculate; opposite; not decurrent on the stems; not imbricate; lower leaves petiolate, or sessile (more or less on upper leaves); aromatic, or foetid, or without marked odour; simple; epulvinate. Leaf blades dissected, or entire; flat; narrowly oblong, or obovate (narrowly), or elliptic; pinnatifid; pinnately veined; cross-venulate; truncate to cordate. Mature leaf blades adaxially pilose to scabrous (more or less densely covered with short recurved simple hairs); abaxially pilose to scabrous. Leaves without stipules. Leaf blade margins entire, or crenate; flat. Leaves without a persistent basal meristem. Leaf anatomy. Hairs present; glandular hairs present; complex hairs absent. Branched hairs present. Urticating hairs absent. Stem anatomy. Secondary thickening developing from a conventional cambial ring.

Reproductive type, pollination. Fertile flowers hermaphrodite. Unisexual flowers absent. Plants hermaphrodite. Plants heterostylous. Entomophilous, or ornithophilous; usually via hymenoptera, or via lepidoptera, or via diptera.

Inflorescence and flower features. Flowers aggregated in ‘inflorescences’. Inflorescence few-flowered. Flowers in verticils. The terminal inflorescence unit cymose. Inflorescences terminal; in bracteate verticillasters forming a terminal interrupted spike or raceme. Flowers pedicellate; bracteate; small; very irregular; zygomorphic; cyclic; tetracyclic. Floral receptacle developing a gynophore, or with neither androphore nor gynophore. Free hypanthium absent. Perianth with distinct calyx and corolla; 4–10; 2 -whorled; isomerous, or anisomerous. Calyx present; 5 (sometimes disguisedly); 1 -whorled; gamosepalous; blunt-lobed; prominently 10–12 veined; imbricate, or open in bud; exceeded by the corolla; campanulate; bilabiate (upper lip entire or shortly 3-lobed, lower with 2 longer lobes); non-fleshy; persistent; with the median member posterior. Corolla present; disguisedly 5; 1 -whorled; gamopetalous; blunt-lobed; imbricate; bilabiate (the upper lip erect or concave and entire or notched, the lower lip 3-lobed with the middle of these the largest and often itself deeply notched); glabrous abaxially, or hairy abaxially (or sparsely hairy); plain, or with contrasting markings; blue purple to violet, or blue (pale). Corolla members entire. Androecium present. Fertile stamens present. Androecial members definite in number. Androecium 4. Androecial members adnate; all equal, or markedly unequal; free of one another; 1 -whorled. Androecium exclusively of fertile stamens, or including staminodes. Staminodes 2; representing the anterior-lateral pair. Stamens 2; becoming exserted (on a very long connective), or remaining included; not didynamous, not tetradynamous; all more or less similar in shape; reduced in number relative to the adjacent perianth; fertile stamens representing the posterior-lateral pair; oppositisepalous; all alternating with the corolla members. Filaments filiform. Anthers connivent, or separate from one another; dorsifixed; versatile, or non-versatile; dehiscing via longitudinal slits; introrse; bilocular (1 loculus more or less sterile); tetrasporangiate; appendaged. Pollen shed as single grains. Fertile gynoecium present. Gynoecium 2 carpelled (the carpels deeply lobed to mimic G4). The pistil 4 celled. Carpels reduced in number relative to the perianth. Gynoecium syncarpous; synstylovarious to eu-syncarpous; superior. Ovary plurilocular; 2 locular (originally), or 4 locular (by intrusions of the ovary wall constituting ‘ false septa’). Locules secondarily divided by ‘false septa’. Gynoecium median; stylate. Styles 1; simple; from a depression at the top of the ovary; ‘gynobasic’. Stigmas 2, or 1 (by reduction); unequally 2 - lobed. Placentation basal. Ovules 2 per locule, or 1 per locule (two per original loculus, but one per locellus); ascending; apotropous; non-arillate; anatropous, or hemianatropous.

Fruit and seed features. Fruit non-fleshy, or fleshy; a schizocarp. Mericarps (2–)4; comprising nutlets. Seeds endospermic to non-endospermic. Embryo well differentiated. Cotyledons 2. Embryo straight.

Special features. The flowering nodes aggregated in dense spicate inflorescences, or separated by extended internodes. 1–25 flowers subtended by each floral leaf (to ‘many’). Calyx limb 3 lobed, or 5 lobed. Upper lip of calyx entire, or lobed; when segmented, 3 lobed. Lower lip of calyx lobed; 2 lobed. Corolla tube exceeding the calyx, or not exceeding the calyx. The upper lip of the corolla incorporating 2 members, the lower 3; (posterior, adaxial) lip of the corolla entire to bilobed; upper (adaxial) lip of the corolla markedly concave. Lower (abaxial) lip of the corolla 3 lobed (the middle one often notched). Stamens ascending. The appendages of the fertile anthers linear (filaments short and ending in a 2-lobed connective, one branch greatly elongated and bears a single linear anther cell and the other branch short, with a scale-like abortive cell).

Geography, cytology, number of species. Adventive. Australian states and territories: Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory, and Tasmania. South-West Botanical Province. A genus of ca 700 species; 2 species in Western Australia; 0 endemic to Western Australia.

Etymology. From the Latin for "garden sage", S. officinalis; from the word for "to be good in health", on account of its medicinal properties.

T.R. Lally, 8 September 2016

Taxonomic Literature

  • Wheeler, Judy; Marchant, Neville; Lewington, Margaret; Graham, Lorraine 2002. Flora of the south west, Bunbury, Augusta, Denmark. Volume 2, dicotyledons. Australian Biological Resources Study.. Canberra..
  • Blackall, William E.; Grieve, Brian J. 1981. How to know Western Australian wildflowers : a key to the flora of the extratropical regions of Western Australia. Part IIIB, (Epacridaceae-Lamiaceae). University of W.A. Press.. [Perth]..