Salvia pentstemonoides Kunth & Bouché, orth. var.
Big Red Sage, Penstemon Sage
Lamiaceae (Mint Family)
Synonym(s): Salvia penstemonoides
USDA Symbol: SAPE15
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.
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National Wetland Indicator Status
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
NPSOT - 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
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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