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Salvia apiana facts for kids

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Salvia apiana
Salvia apiana 4.jpg
Scientific classification

Salvia apiana, the white sage, bee sage, or sacred sage is an evergreen perennial shrub that is native to the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, found mainly in the coastal sage scrub habitat of Southern California and Baja California, on the western edges of the Mojave and Sonoran deserts.


Salvia apiana is a shrub that reaches 1.3 to 1.5 metres (4.3 to 4.9 ft) tall and 1.3 metres (4.3 ft) wide. The whitish evergreen leaves are 3 to 9 cm (1.2 to 3.5 in) and persist throughout the year; they are opposite with crenulate margins. Leaves are thickly covered in hairs that trigger oil glands; when rubbed oils and resins are released, producing a strong aroma. The flowers are very attractive to bees, which is described by the specific epithet, apiana. Several 1 to 1.3 metres (3.3 to 4.3 ft) flower stalks, sometimes pinkish colored, grow above the foliage in the spring. Flowers are white to pale lavender.

Distribution and habitat

White sage is a common plant that requires well-drained dry soil, full sun, and little water. The plant occurs on dry slopes in coastal sage scrub, chaparral, and yellow-pine forests of Southern California to Baja California at less than 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) elevation.


Flowers attract varied pollinators including bumblebees, carpenter bees, Bombyliidae, and hummingbirds. However most of these species are ineffective pollinators, with only three species of carpenter bee and one species of bumblebee actually leading to routine pollination.

Pests and disease

The terpenoids and essential oils found in white sage likely deter herbivory.


Salvia apiana MHNT.BOT.2012.10.7
Salvia apiana dried flower - MHNT

Salvia apiana is widely used by Native American peoples on the Pacific coast of the United States. The seed is a primary, traditional ingredient in pinole, a staple food. The Cahuilla people have traditionally harvested large quantities of the seed, then mixed it with wheat flour and sugar to make gruel and biscuits. The leaves and stems are a traditional food among the Chumash people and neighboring communities.

For healing use, several tribes have traditionally used the seed for removing foreign objects from the eye, similar to the way that Clary sage seeds have been used in Europe. A tea from the roots is traditional among the Cahuilla women for healing and strength after childbirth. Different parts of the plant are also used in ceremonies by several Native American cultures.


Salvia apiana prefers a sunny location, well draining soil, and good air circulation. It easily hybridizes with other Salvia species, particularly Salvia leucophylla and Salvia clevelandii.

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