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Salvia mellifera ‘Black Sage’

Salvia mellifera ‘Black Sage’

Most of us locals have trekked to the top of the aptly named ‘Black Hill’ in Morro Bay to watch a sunset, enveloped on all sides by the fragrant shrub Salvia mellifera. Black Hill is aptly named for the Black Sage that proliferates on its sides, along with a few other native chaparral plants that thrive on our coastal ranges, such as Mimulus aurantiacus, Artemisia californica, and Laurel Sumac. In the springtime after a rainy winter, the flowers of Salvia mellifera tinge the entire hill with a pale blue glow. Found from San Jose down to Baja, Salvia mellifera is also called ‘Honey sage’, because a mild, uniquely spicy, berry/vanilla flavored honey is made from its nectar. All Salvias are a part of the lamiaceae family or Mint family, 17 of them being native to California. Salvia mellifera has diterpenoids which are pain relievers, in its leaf membranes. The Chumash Indians made a sun tea out of the leaves of black sage, and soaked sore feet or rubbed onto painful areas of the skin.

Salvia mellifera is a California Native that thrives in the sandstone, shale, granite, or serpentine soils commonly found here on the Central Coast of California. As are most California Natives, it is drought tolerant. It has semi deciduous, oblong-elliptic leaves covered in simple and aromatic, glandular hairs. 1-2 inch-wide inflorescences’ born on whorls off of erect stems rise 6-8 inches above the 3-6 foot tall plant. Salvia mellifera has been known to hybridize with Salvia apiana, Salvia leucophylla, and Salvia clevlandii in nature. It is a great addition to a California Native garden area, with the plants listed above, and contrasts well also with Achillea ‘Moonshine’, and of course our native poppies Eschscholzia cailfornica. It is an important hummingbird and butterfly attractant, and can serve as shelter for both songbirds and ground-dwelling birds.

We are currently selling Salvia mellifera ‘Black Sage’ in 1 Gallon containers. Give us a call, ‘Like’ us on Facebook, or check out our website at to learn more about plants like Salvia mellifera that we are currently growing for your garden.

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