Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - The University of Texas at Austin information

 Native Plant Database

Salvia greggii


Autumn sage, Cherry sage, Gregg salvia


Lamiaceae (Mint Family)



Salvia greggii (Autumn sage)
Dana, Michael
Autumn sage is a soft, mounding shrub normally 2-3 ft. tall, with small, mintily aromatic green leaves that are evergreen in warmer climates. The flowers are borne on racemes from spring to frost and can be red, pink, purple, orange, or white. Its natural range is from south-central and west Texas south to San Luis Potosi in Mexico, mostly on rocky slopes.

A popular landscape plant in the Southwest, Autumn sage is delightful to use as a small, ornamental, flowering shrub in a perennial bed or as a low hedge. Its aromatic foliage quickens the senses and its flowers are sure to draw hummingbirds. The color of its blossoms in the wild is usually red but varies from area to area, with some regions dominated by red-blooming plants, others pink, others orange, others purple, and others white, plus many shades in between. The color range has been further enhanced by breeding, resulting in many cultivars over the years. It is disease and insect free and drought tolerant, and once established, should not be fertilized.

The species name “greggii” is in honor of Josiah Gregg, (1806-1850). He was born in Overton County, Tennessee. In the summer of 1841 and again in the winter of 1841-42 he traveled through Texas, up the Red River valley, and later from Galveston to Austin and by way of Nacogdoches to Arkansas. He took note of Texas geology, trees, prevalent attitudes, and politics. At the same time, Gregg began compiling his travel notes into a readable manuscript. His “Commerce of the Prairies”, which came out in two volumes in 1844, was an immediate success. In 1848 he joined a botanical expedition to western Mexico and California, during which he corresponded with and sent specimens to the eminent botanist George Engelman in St. Louis. Subsequently, the American Botanical Society added the Latin name “greggii” in his honor to twenty-three species of plants. Gregg died on February 25, 1850, as a result of a fall from his horse.

Image Gallery:

39 photo(s) available

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Evergreen , Semi-evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Opposite
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Elliptic , Obovate
Leaf Pubescence: Glabrous
Leaf Margin: Entire
Leaf Apex: Obtuse
Leaf Texture: Smooth
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Inflorescence: Raceme
Size Notes: Normally 2-3 ft but can reach 5 ft
Leaf: Green
Flower: Flowers 1 inch long
Fruit:
Size Class: 1-3 ft. , 3-6 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Red , Pink , Orange , Purple
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov
Bloom Notes: Depending on provenance, will bloom most heavily either in spring or in fall, with scattered blooming in summer and until frost. Flower color differs according to provenance and breeding, ranging from red to orange to pink to purple to white, with many shades in between.

Distribution

USA: TX
Native Distribution: Central and west Texas south to San Luis Potosi in Mexico
Native Habitat: Well-drained, rocky slopes. Usually in rocky soils in central, south, and west Texas.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Dry
Drought Tolerance: High
Cold Tolerant: yes
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Well-drained, rocky soils, usually limestone of greater or lesser organic content. Also in sands and loams.
Conditions Comments: Autumn sage must have a well-drained site and cannot take shrink-swell clay soils. In clay soils, work in organic matter and amendments to improve drainage and, if possible, plant on a slope. Though generally cold tolerant, will be deciduous in regions with extremely cold winters, though some cultivars do well even in Oklahoma and Colorado, well outside of its natural range. Avoid planting it near heavy foot traffic because the stems are very brittle.

Benefit

Use Ornamental: Valued for its nearly evergreen habit, its colorful, long-lasting, hummingbird-attracting blooms, and the denseness of its growth, which makes it useful as a low hedge.
Use Wildlife: Flowers attract bees and hummingbirds.
Use Food: As with many Salvia species, leaves can be used fresh or dried for seasonings and teas, and the flowers are edible.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant Flowers: yes
Fragrant Foliage: yes
Attracts: Hummingbirds , Butterflies
Nectar Source: yes
Deer Resistant: High

Last Update: 2010-01-23