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Salvia leucophylla

Purple Sage, Gray 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 leucophylla

Evergreen shrub, native to Coast Ranges of Southern California. Graceful plant to 3–5 ft. tall with equal or greater width; arching branches have upturned tips, root where they touch soil. Stems and foliage are thickly covered with fine white hairs. Wrinkled, oblong to lance-shaped leaves are apple green when they emerge, turn whiter as days get hotter. In spring, each 6–8-in. stem carries three to five tightly packed whorls of 1-in., pinkish purple flowers with gray calyxes. Good bank cover. Drought-tolerant.

‘Point Sal Spreader’ (often sold as ‘Point Sal’) is prostrate, 1–2 1/2 ft. tall and 10–12 ft. wide; has broader, grayer leaves than the species. ‘Figueroa’, to 3–4 ft. tall and twice as wide, is especially silvery; tolerates drought, heat, and cold.

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