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Salvia penstemonoides Kunth & Bouché
Big red sage, Penstemon sage
Synonym(s): Salvia pentstemonoides
USDA Symbol: SAPE6
USDA Native Status: L48 (N)
Once thought to be extinct, Big Red Sage was rediscovered in the 1980s and has become an established garden plant in Texas. It occurs in the wild in only a few locations in central Texas, but luckily it is easy to grow from seed and can attain an impressive stature in garden soil. The flowers are a sort of purplish red and appear in the summer, drawing many hummingbirds. Its robust, glossy foliage looks attractive behind a border and also smells pleasant - rubbing against the leaves releases a scent vaguely reminiscent of lemon-lime, but somehow more like Sprite or 7-Up.
The specific epithet, often misspelled penstemonoides, is an orthographic variant.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Red
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct
Bloom Notes: Flowers are red sort of tinged with purple, or red sort of tinged with blue.
DistributionUSA: TX Native Distribution: Endemic
to seeps on limestone ledges and banks along streams in central Edwards Plateau. Well-drained loam, clay, limestone. Native Habitat:
Stream, river banks, Ditches, Ravines, Depressions
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Alkaline (pH>7.2)
Heat Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Medium Loam, Clay Loam Clay, Limestone-based, Calcareous
BenefitUse Ornamental: Attractive flowers and leaves that smell faintly like lemon-lime when brushed against
Use Wildlife: A sure hummingbird attractor
Use Food: Like many red-flowered Salvias, its flowers are both edible and sweet.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant Foliage: yes
Attracts: Butterflies , Hummingbirds
Nectar Source: yes
Deer Resistant: Minimal
Seeds Commercially Avail:
Cut spent flower
spikes to their basal rosettes.
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Order seed of this species from Native American Seed and help support the Wildflower Center.
National Wetland Indicator Status
|Status:|| FACW |
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
From the National Suppliers Directory
According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:
Far South Wholesale Nursery
- Austin, TX
From the ArchiveWildflower Newsletter1988 VOL. 5, NO.1
- National Jubilee Honors Lady Bird Johnson, President's Report, Spring Wildflower...Wildflower Newsletter1992 VOL. 9, NO.1
- Research Update, Creating Native Lawn with Sod, Director's Report, What Makes Pl...Wildflower Newsletter1992 VOL. 9, NO.5
- Ten Year Anniversary Celebration, A Look Back at Our First Decade, Celebration o...
Record Last Modified: 2011-01-25
Research By: TWC Staff, GDG