Salvia sagitatta - Ruiz & Pavón
Lamiaceae (Mint) Family
Photo courtesy Mike Carter, Pensacola, Fla.
Salvia sagittata is an evergreen, herbaceous perennial salvia from the Andes (Ecuador, Peru and Chile), growing at elevations up to 10,500 feet. The Arrow-leaf sage forms a large shrub reaching 3 to 5 feet tall.
The leaves are thick, yellow-green, deltoid shape (sagitate, Latin for "arrow leaf"). The leaves are rough on the upper surface; the underside is covered with short white hairs and is heavily veined.
The flowers are spikes in a striking gentian blue that occur summer through fall. The inflorescences are very sticky, arranged on stems reaching up to 2 feet long above the leaves; brilliant with a spreading lower lip. Each flower has a pistil and two yellow stamens showing in the upper lip.
Fruit is schizocarp (a dry seed that splits open to reveal several parts).
The specific epithet refers to the arrow-shaped leaves. The plant was collected and named in 1798 by Hipólito Ruiz López and José Antonio Pavón Jiménez, two Spanish botanists who spent ten years in Peru and Chile on a commission by the government of Spain to go to the New World in search of new medicinal and agricultural plants.