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

 Native Plant Database

Salvia lyrata

Lyreleaf sage, Cancer weed

Lamiaceae (Mint Family)

Salvia lyrata (Lyreleaf sage)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia
Lyreleaf sage is a strictly upright, hairy perennial, 1-2 ft. tall with a rosette of leaves at the base. The leaves are deeply 3-lobed, with a few simple leaves higher up on the stem. Large basal leaves are purple-tinged in the winter. This species has the typical square stem and 2-lipped blossom of the mints. Its pale-blue to violet, tubular flowers are arranged in whorls around the stem forming an interrupted, terminal spike. Each blossom is about 1 inch long. The 2-lobed lower lip is much longer than the upper, which has 3 lobes, the middle one forming a sort of hood. The sepals are purplish-brown.

Lyreleaf sage makes a great evergreen groundcover, with somewhat ajuga-like foliage and showy blue flowers in spring. It will reseed easily in loose, sandy soils and can form a solid cover with regular watering. It even takes mowing and can be walked on. The exposed lower lip of this and other salvias provides an excellent landing platform for bees. When a bee lands, the two stamens are tipped, and the insect is doused with pollen.

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Herb
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Inflorescence: Raceme
Size Notes: 1-2 feet.
Leaf: Dark green. In winter, veined with dark purple.
Flower: Flowers 1 inch long
Fruit: Tan
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Blue , Violet
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun
Bloom Notes: Pale blue to lavender to white in color. In Texas, blooms for 4 or 5 weeks in spring.


USA: AL , AR , CT , DE , FL , GA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MD , MS , MO , NJ , NY , NC , OH , OK , PA , SC , TN , TX , VA , WV , DC
Native Distribution: FL to e. TX, n. to NY, OH, MO, & KS. Eastern United States, Zones 6 to 9
Native Habitat: Rich, rocky, open woods; alluvial areas; wet to dry meadows. Well-drained sand or loam. In Texas, found in sandy soils of open woods, meadows, and clearings in the eastern fourth of the state.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low , Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Dry
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
Drought Tolerance: Medium
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Acid or calcareous sands, loams, or clays, well-drained or not.
Conditions Comments: Tolerates periodic flooding and can take drought and overwatering.


Use Ornamental: An adaptable ground cover or perennial flower that can be mowed and has attractive foliage and blooms.
Use Wildlife: Flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Fragrant Foliage: yes
Attracts: Hummingbirds , Butterflies
Nectar Source: yes
Deer Resistant: Moderate

Last Update: 2013-09-09