Cleveland Sage. Jim Sage. Blue Sage. Fragrant Sage. All these are common names for Salvia clevelandii. Regardless of region, this plant is known for its aromatic qualities--a trait shared by its cousins in other sage species. Native to southern California and northern Baja, this perennial thrives in a chaparral habitat, usually found growing wild below 3000 ft / 900 m. Initially identified in 1874 by Asa Gray and Edward Lee Greene, it was named in honor of San Diego's noted plant collector, Daniel Cleveland.
It stands 1 to 1.5 m / 3.3 to 4.9 ft tall and occupies roughly the same diameter. This plant prefers full sun, dry summers, and well-drained soils. They are also relatively short-lived, averaging 5 to 10 years generally.
Having obovate (oval-shaped), rugose (wrinkled), leaves that are generally no more than 2.5 cm / .98 in long, this sage species has some of the smallest leaves of its type that I have heard of, most sages displaying leaves 1.5 to 2 inches in length, if not longer.
Flowers sprout from 30 cm / 12 in spikes, each spike displaying numerous individual flowers, growing in a whorled formation at the uppermost end of each protrusion. These flowers tend to be a vibrant amethyst purple and bloom from June to July.
They have also been favored as landscape plants in California since the 1940s, both for the beauty and hardiness. This sage is also known to attract a number of pollinating species, including hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees. While the native peoples sucked the nectar from the trumpet-shaped flowers, much as is done with honeysuckle flowers, the most common (present) use for this plant is in landscaping. In addition to adding a sustainable food source for pollinators and bringing beauty and fragrance to the garden, these plants can act as some measure of fire-retardancy.
As always, feel free to comment with ideas or suggestions. Till tomorrow.
1. Clebsch, Betsy; Barner, Carol D. (2003). The New Book of Salvias. Timber Press. pp. 78–81.
2. http://www.fourdir.com/p_cleveland_sage.htm (Accessed 7.23.15)