Salvia mellifera seeds, black sage
Salvia mellifera has a small distribution area reaching from California, Baja California to Mexico. There Salvia mellifera occurs along the coast. The Latin genus name comes from the English word "to save" hinting at the medical use of the sage. Salvia mellifera has its species name in common with the honey bee Apis mellifera. Translated "Mellifera" means honey bearing. Salvia mellifera is a perennial shrub that reaches a height of 1 to 2 m. The leaves are elliptic, 7 cm long and pubescent at the bottom side. On the upper side of the leaves as well as on the shoot, Salvia mellifera bears glands that are responsible for the special odor.
The leaves are very dark, especially during dry periods Due to that Salvia mellifera is also called the black sage. The leaves are curled when it get too dry and are even dropped if the dry periods is too long. The flowers of the black sage, that belongs to the mint family (Laminaceae) are clustered in inflorescences and are whitish violet to lavender in color. The black sage is pollinated by bees. The seeds are amongst others distributed by ants. The fruit of the black sage has a hard shell and is milled to gain flour. Furthermore the natives use the leaves for brewing tea. This tea is used for the treatment outside the body. It is rubbed onto aching areas and has a painkilling effect. Meanwhile some substances were identified that are known to have a painkilling effect, amongst others diterpenoids. Honey from the black sage is very spicy and slightly hot. Most of the time only little honey can be gained as nectar production is reduced during dry periods. Just through rainy days which are rare, nectar production raises.
Salvia mellifera grows in areas where regularly fires occur. Therefore the seeds need a special treatment. To break the dormancy seeds should be threatened with cold smoke for 5 minutes. Alternatively they can be put into water together with some charred wood. After that they germinate reliable, when the seeds are only covered slightly with substrate. The first seedlings emerge after 2 weeks.
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