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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Monday - January 09, 2006

From: San Francisco, CA
Region: California
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: About Salvia superba
Answered by: Nan Hampton and Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

About 10 years ago, nurseries were offering a small salvia, called salvia superba or meadow sage. A few years later, "May Night" and "Blue Hill" appeared on the market similar to this first salvia superba but both were taller (salvia superba gets to 12"). I am trying to find a correct identification for this shorter salvia for an article on drought tolerant plants. Thank you.

ANSWER:

Salvia x superba Stapf [sylvestris x villicaulis] (synonym Salvia virgata) is an introduced species. Non-native plants are not really in our purview; however, I will suggest a couple of web sites that might help you find some clarification. One is for 'May Night' Meadow Sage which is listed as either Salvia x sylvestris or S. x superba. There certainly does seem to be confusion about the proper botanical name. Another web site has links to several people doing research on the genus Salvia.

You should be aware that S. x superba (S. virgata) is on the "A" list of noxious weeds in California. The statement for "A" reads: "Eradication, containment, rejection, or other holding action at the state-county level. Quarantine interceptions to be rejected or treated at any point in the state." The California Department of Food and Agriculture gives more information about Meadow Sage (S. virgata). It doesn't sound like something you would want to recommend to be used as a drought tolerant plant.
 

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