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Sages unidentified or doubtfully identified:
Salvia darcyi -
Salvia oresbia - Salvia schaffneri
These sages are awaiting species identification or clarification. Some have been collected and may be new species. Others are included because I believe the identifications are incorrect or suspect.
First, I admit that I am not a taxonomist. The purpose of these notes are to motivate a trained botanist to check out my presumptions about the identity of these plants. I feel I am at least qualified to ask relevant questions and raise worthy issues. Science is best defined as an ongoing process, a search for clarity. I don't see the value in making goals and proclamations essential parts of my own identity.
In order to carry on discussions on the identities of these plants, participants at least need to have common ground to stand on. Known facts need to be presented in order to be either verified or challenged.
Here are two examples illustrating why identifications of plants have to be taken with a big grain of salt:
1. I don't consider the presence or absence of tubers, stolons, or rhizomes in Salvias as absolute in characterizing species. Of the many forms of S. microphylla in the trade, there is a wide range of those that develop rhizomes. Most don't have them, some develop them on mature plants, and others develop them fairly freely. This phenomenon is not restricted to just this species.
2. It is dangerous to assume that plants in the wild are necessarily native, even in the remote countryside of Oaxaca. I can offer the example of the Brazilian sage S. confertiflora, which I got from Frank Cabot while he ran Stonecrop Nurseries at Cold Spring, New York. He told me he had found it near the site where he had stayed, a home of an American expatriate near Ixtlan de Juarez, high in the Sierra Madre. It had evidently escaped from a garden and naturalized.
I had a hard time believing this, because S. confertiflora was listed as a member of section Secundae along with S. splendens, a sage with a very different habit and bloom. I assumed that S. confertiflora was the odd man out in this section. I was disabused of this notion when I had a chance to look at the collection of section Secundae at the herbarium at the Royal Botanical Garden at Kew. These were not available at the Gray Herbarium. I not only confirmed the accuracy of the identification of S. confertiflora but discovered that S. splendens was the odd member of the section. All the other members looked much more like S. confertiflora.
This sage was originally collected by Yucca-Do and was originally considered to be S. oresbia by T. P. Ramamoorthy, who did his Ph.D thesis on new world Salvia and supervised the herbarium at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico. Alternate possible identifications were some of the odd forms of S. fulgens: S. orizabensis and S. schaffneri.
The year following my trip with Yucca-Do to Mexico, Dr. James Compton visited the same areas with Yucca-Do and took the plant back with him to England. After some research, he considered it to be a new species, S. darcyi.
I had not yet given up on it as S. oresbia, so I went through the type specimens at the Gray Herbarium at Harvard University. What I discovered has led me to conclude that the plant is really S. schaffneri, since it appears to be identical in every respect to the plant now generally referred to as S. darcyi. There are only two specimens, the type at Gray and an isotype at the University of Goettingen. Neither of these would have been readily availble for examination in England. The description of S. schaffneri is by Fernald in Proc. Am. Acad. 35, 535 (1900) for Schaffner's specimen collected in San Luis Potosi in the mountains near Morelos (no. 667: 334), which is based on the one I examined at Gray.
This form of S. guaranitica was introduced into the United States by D. S. Verity from a plant in cultivation in Costa Rica and by the U.S. Plant Introduction Station, Glenn Dale, MD 20769. The latter was received from Claude Hope of Cartago, Costa Rica. I got my initial plant from the Huntington Botanical Garden, where both of the accessions were growing.
It is fairly obvious that this plant was in cultivation in Costa Rica. This does not mean that is native to that area or that it is a hybrid. The latter is unlikely, since there are no very large blue sages in Costa Rica to serve as parents. I consider it more likely that it was brought in by an ambassador or businessman from southern Brazil or Paraguay.
The reason many people doubt its identity as S. guaranitica is that it is much larger and has no tubers. If it came from a more tropical end of its range, it could be a natural tetraploid. This would explain the differences in habit, such as its vigor and lack of tubers. One year, I overwintered it under grow lights with the old-fashioned form. Under the weaker lights, they were almost identical.
The designation S. involucrata is the name given to this plant at the Smith College greenhouses. While it has most of the characteristics of that species, it looks a lot like the accession of S. wagneriana with white bracts I got from the University of California at Berkeley some years ago.
The two sages have about the same habit, foliage shape and burgundy band around the axillary nodes. Both accessions have transitional leaves that can't decide if they are floral leaves or bracts, with a mixed vein pattern and a white variegation that is variable.
This is enough to make me think the Smith College plant is the same as the pink bracted form of S. wagneriana grown in California. I am awaiting a comparison of the two.
The origin of this plant is supposed to be in some California garden. The parentage is therefore unknown, but one obvious parent would seem to be the old-fashioned form of S. leucantha. This seems so because the flowers are larger, and are otherwise identical. The most profound difference is the reduction of the prominent purple hairs of the floral stem and calyxes to a thin, fine burgundy farina in the hybrid. Next, the foliage is both wider and smoother. In full sun it looks more like S. leucantha, but in shady conditions, the foliage looks like it belongs to an elongated S. chiapensis. The growth habit also suggests a cross of S. leucantha with S. chiapensis or a similar species.
It is definitely not a cross of S. leucantha with S. elegans (pineapple sage), since `Anthony Parker' is the result of that parentage. If this deep purple flowered hybrid is studied carefully, the parentage can be discerned. By comparison, `Waverly' is obviously related to S. leucantha.
The varietal name used should be `Waverly'. The old name `San Marcos Lavender' was used only for a short time in New England, and the varietal name `Santa Barbara' has been applied to a new, patented, compact variety of the all-purple form.
The question about the name S. lycioides x greggii `San Isidro' (lavender) and `Los Lirios' (purple) concerns the choice of S. lycioides as the parent. At higher elevations in the Eleven Sisters part of the Sierra Madre Orientale near Saltillo and Monterrey in northeastern Mexico, there are four tall mountains with relictual alpine areas. Just below these areas, very hardy clones of S. microphylla like `Wild Watermelon' and `Rosita' and S. lycioides can be found.
At still lower elevations, S. greggii and other members of section Flocculosae can be found. These include S. muelleri, S. coahuilensis, and S. macellaria and presumably S. lycioides x greggii `San Isidro' and `Los Lirios'. Also found here are the S. x jamensis forms and more varieties of S. microphylla.
Under more xeric conditions and at still lower elevations, S. chamaedryoides, S. chionophylla, and S. thymoides, all with whitish leaves from fine hairs can be found. All Flocculosae except for S. greggii are supposed to have either sky blue or deep blue flowers.
It is possible to darken blue flowers by agging a bit of magenta without strongly shifting the color to purple or violet. This means that any collections of these species need to be studied in detail (DNA and anthocyanin pigments) to see how much hybridization has taken place, and to determine if the original parents still exist.
It also means that names like S. lycioides x greggii are purely speculative. The order of color shift from deep pure blue to fuchsia in plants from this area is: S. chamaedryoides = S. lycioides (deep sky blue) > S. coahuilensis (deep indigo blue) > S. lycioides x greggii `Los Lirios' (deep purple) > S. muelleri (royal purple) > S. lycioides x greggii `San Isidro' (pinkish lavender) > S. greggii `Diane' (red-purple) > S. microphylla `San Carlos Festival' (fuchsia).
Along with these flower color observations, the growth habits of the S. lycioides x greggii, S. muelleri, and S. coahuilensis clones is quite close. They are all spreading plants, more like one another than the more erect S. chamaedryoides, S. lycioides, and S. greggii.
I feel that the cultivars `San Isidro' and `Los Lirios' may be crosses with S. muelleri or S. coahuilensis rather than S. lycioides. It would be nice to know from the collection data which of the blue Flocculosae are present, and at what elevations. A more pressing question might be: are S. muelleri and S. coahuilensis true species, or are they hybrids based on S. lycioides and S. chamaedryoides?
This sage was collected by Dennis Breedlove and is part of the collection at the Strybing Arboretum in Golden Gate State Park. It appears to me to be a form of S. elegans because of its flower. It is similar to Honey-Melon Sage in habit, but apears to have less hairy leaves and is taller.
This sage is an old selection from the greenhouses at Smith College. So far, no one has succeeded in identifying it beyond placing it in subgenus Calosphace (New World). My best guess is that it is a member of one of several possible sections like Potiles, Polystachyae, or Sigmoideae, each characterized in part by having uninterrupted flower spikes. For a plant with small flowers, it is quite showy.
This mystery sage is now recognized as Salvia clinopodioides, the only member of section Cuculiatae These sages have the flowers arranged in glomerules, dense spherical arrangements of calyxes like the similar structures in Monarda and Leonotis. Although it looks a lot like S. rubiginosa, a member of the section Lophanthoidae . However, the floral structure is more dramatic and the plant is a rapid grower. It also develops a sizeable colony of tuberous rhizomes if grown in good garden soil.
This is a new sage that is gaining a lot of popularity because of its vigor. It forms a large shrub with many spikes of lavender flowers. Some people feel it may be S. longispicata, although it was not collected from an area where this species is known to grow.
This Yucca-Do introduction has spikes of blue flowers to go along with its green rugose leaves that have a pronounced silvery underside. I think it might be related to S. farinacea.
Blue Sky Sage (Yucca-Do)
This sage has finally been found to be Salvia caudata, a member of section Angulatae, subsectiion Glumacea. The collecting site for the Yucca-Do accession is near the type locality.
It forms a handsome shrub with pleasing glossy foliage, topped off with gemmy dark amethyst flowers with white splotches spilling out of the throat onto the center of the lower lip. This plant seems to have the same growth habit and thin bracts that the S. misella from Baton Rouge has.
This unusual selection from Yucca-Do has prominent dark purple-burgundy stems and narrow leaves. It is also unusual for its tall, erect, unbranched habit. The flowers develop from a distinct chartreuse involucre that opens up into a fairly open spike of smallish lavender flowers. According to Pat McNeal, when planted in central Texas, it develops multiple stems from the base, giving it the habit of S. leucantha. I have no idea what its affinities are.
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