Salvia apiana | ‘Bee Sage’, ‘Sacred Sage’, ‘White Sage’ | 25 seeds
Salvia apiana (syn. Audibertia polystachya, Audibertiella polystachya, Ramona polystachya) is an evergreen shrub of the Lamiaceae family which is native to parts of Mexico and the USA (where it’s usually found in coastal scrub areas or the edges of the Mojave and Sonoran deserts). The species is known informally as the ‘Bee Sage’, ‘Kasiile’, ‘Lhtaay’, ‘Pilhtaay’, ‘Qaashil’, ‘Qas’ily’, ‘Sacred Sage’, ‘Sacred White Sage’, ‘Shaltai’, ‘Shlhtaay’, ‘We’wey’ and ‘White Sage’.
An attractive, white-grey-green shrub which grows up to roughly a metre and a half high by 1.3 metres across, apiana forms serrated, oval-ish leaves which give off a strong scent if rubbed, due to the release of a multitude of oils and resins produced by the plant. Green to pink flower stalks rise above the main plant in the springtime, eventually blooming with gorgeous, white to lavender flowers between mid-spring and mid-autumn. The flowers are particularly enticing to bees (giving rise to the species name – consequently, ‘White Sage’ honey is quite popular!), hawk moths, hummingbirds and wasps. Apiana is also known to form interesting hybrids with related species, notably Salvia clevelandii and Salvia leucophylla.
‘White Sage’ has long been a staple of the native Americans of the modern USA’s Pacific coast, who commonly use the foliage (as a general foodstuff), seed (for example, as an ingredient in flour or as an aid to extract foreign objects from the eye) and roots (to brew a healing tea for administration subsequent to childbirth). Moreover, the leaves form an important part of many traditional purification rites, being burnt either for their smoke or ashes. Smudging with Salvia apiana ash and/or using it as incense has been incorporated into several modern belief systems too – especially those with a so-called “New Age” bent – leading to shouts of cultural appropriation and accusations of unsustainable and illegal harvesting from some quarters. Whatever your perspective on that, it should be noted here that, reportedly, the smoke given off by burning ‘White Sage’ is toxic to pregnant women, apparently potentially causing nausea, vomiting and even miscarriage. Just so you’re aware!
Occurring in the wild at elevations of less than one and a half thousand metres above sea level, ‘White Sage’ prefers coastal sage scrub, chaparral and yellow-pine forests – particularly if situated on dry slopes. As with many other Salvia species (although sadly not, at least when it comes to seed, Salvia divinorum!), Salvia apiana is quite easy to grow from seed or cuttings, provided you supply a well-drained, mildly acidic to mildly alkaline soil in full sun to partial shade and with a good supply of fresh air. Grow indoors or outdoors in USDA Hardiness Zones 8-11, allowing at least a metre and a half between the plants so that they have ample space to mature. Water only once the soil is completely dry. When growing from seed, note that this species has been reported to benefit (but not require) from seed smoke treatment prior to germination.
All the seed sold by Arkham’s Botanical was freshly and ethically sourced