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Zones 14-17, 19-24
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Full
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Moderate, Minimal

Salvia aurea

Golden Sage, Beach Sage
Lamiaceae (Labiatae)
Evergreen, Shrubs

SALVIA

Thought of as drought-tolerant shrubs in much of the West, this huge genus—the largest in the mint family—includes many species of shrubs and perennials that need moderate to regular water. In recent years, scores of new species and selections have appeared in Western nurseries, many tender varieties that are even being offered as annuals in cold-winter climates. All sages have square stems and whorls of two-lipped flowers, either distinctly spaced along flower stalks or so tightly crowded that they look like one dense spike; some species have branched inflorescences. Flower colors range from white and yellow through salmon and pink to scarlet and pure red, from pale lavender to true blue and darkest purple. A few sages have fragrant blossoms. Many have aromatic foliage.

Nurseries in the West offer nearly 100 species as well as dozens of selections and hybrids. Names are often confused; S. x jamensis varieties are often assigned to S. greggii; and S. nemorosa varieties are often interchanged with S. x superba and S. x sylvestris varieties. 

Salvia aurea

Dense grower to 3–4 ft. tall and wide; becomes sparse and woody with age. Young plants are thickly covered with elliptical, woolly gray-green leaves to 1 1/4 in. long. Carried on 2–4-in. stems are whorls of interesting inch-long flowers in bright yellow aging to rusty brown; they emerge from brown, papery calyxes that persist long after blossoms fall. Main bloom is in winter, early spring; sporadic through fall. Drought tolerant.

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