Salvia penstemonoides Kunth & Bouché
Big red sage, Penstemon sage
Lamiaceae (Mint Family)
Synonym(s): Salvia pentstemonoides
USDA Symbol: sape6
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, formerly spelled penstemonoides, is an orthographic variant.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Retention: Semi-evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Opposite
Size Class: 3-6 ft.
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.
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
PropagationPropagation Material: Seeds
Commercially Avail: yes
Maintenance: Cut spent flower spikes to their basal rosettes.
Find Seed or Plants
Order seed of this species from Native American Seed and help support the Wildflower Center.
National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Suppliers DirectoryAccording to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:
Wrights Nursery - Briggs, TX
Far South Wholesale Nursery - Austin, TX
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Native Plant Society of Texas - Fredericksburg, TX
NPSOT - Fredericksburg Chapter - Fredericksburg, TX
NPSOT - Austin Chapter - Austin, TX
NPSOT - Williamson County Chapter - Georgetown, TX
BibliographyBibref 318 - Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Search More Titles in Bibliography
From the ArchiveWildflower Newsletter 1988 VOL. 5, NO.1 - National Jubilee Honors Lady Bird Johnson, President's Report, Spring Wildflower...
Wildflower Newsletter 1992 VOL. 9, NO.1 - Research Update, Creating Native Lawn with Sod, Director's Report, What Makes Pl...
Wildflower Newsletter 1992 VOL. 9, NO.5 - Ten Year Anniversary Celebration, A Look Back at Our First Decade, Celebration o...
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Salvia pentstemonoides in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Salvia pentstemonoides in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Salvia pentstemonoides
MetadataRecord Modified: 2014-07-17
Research By: TWC Staff, GDG