Salvia apiana, White sage, Sacred sage

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Salvia apiana seeds, White Sage, Sacred Sage

Salvia apiana is a member of the lamiaceae family and salvia genus. It is a perennial, evergreen shrub that has many names, including white sage, bee sage, western mugwort, cudweed, and prairie sage. It is native to desert areas of  northwestern Mexico and the southwestern United States.

Growing up to a height of roughly five feet, the salvia apiana is made up of bunches of silvery leaves. Starting out crinkled and grey the leaves unfold and soon turn the waxy, silvery-white colour that gives the plant it's colloquial name of white sage. Once mature the leaves have resins and oils that produce a strong scent that make salvia apiana appealing for home cultivation. The scent is produced naturally as the plant grows but is especially intense when the leaves are cut or crushed.

The flowers of the salvia apiana can be found at the end of three foot-long spikes, appearing in late spring, and continuing to flower throughout the early summer. The flowers themselves appear as delicate white blossoms that fade to an elegant lavender or light pink colour. When in bloom a cacophony of bees can be heard wherever salvia apiana is planted, as they love the pollen of this plant, especially as it produces a profusion of blooms. It is also a favourite of other pollen-loving animals like humming birds and hawk moths.

Salvia apiana has a number of uses, other than in home cultivation. Historically, the leaves were burned, after being dried, by American Indians and used in their religious ceremonies to cleanse people and places of bad spirits, and was regarded as a holy. They also used the dried seed, mixed with sugar and wheat flour, to produce biscuits or a type of porridge. More recently it has been used as a topical ointment due to it's anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotic properties, that come from the cineole and tannic acid contained within the leaves. Salvia apiana has also been used as deodorant, partly because of it's scent, which can be used to mask many unpleasant odours, but also because it has been shown to repel different types of insects. Salvia apiana is also used as an aid to meditation or just as a calming agent as it contains miltirone, which reduces anxiety and has a calming effect on the body.

Cultivation of White Sage from seeds:
The seeds of Salvia apiana are easy to grow. Simply sprinkle them onto the soil and cover them with only a thin layer of substrate, only about 1mm, and keep it moist at a temperature of about 20°C, germination occurs very fast after just 2 weeks. Salvia apiana prefers a sunny place. The plant is quite resistant against drought and heat. The white sage is not winter hardy and tolerates temperatures down to 0°C.

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