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Blue Sage

Blue Sage or Pitcher Sage
Salvia azurea
(Order Lamiales; Family Lamiaceae)

Pitcher sage.

Diagnosis:  Blue sage is a perennial forb with erect stems.  Stems can occur singly or in a group, being either simple or branched.  The slender stems are 4-sided and mostly short grayish-pubescent.  The leaves are 1-3” long by 1” wide and are simple, short-stalked lanceolate.  The leaf margins are toothed to nearly entire with pointed tips.  Roots can descend up to 8 feet. The spike-like inflorescences are long with 2-8 flowered clusters. Petals are blue and rarely white. Fruits produced are 1 or 2 small nutlets. The brown, resin-dotted nutlets contain 1 seed each.

Blue sage leaf (left; Sage flower (right,

Flowering period: July, August, September, October

Visitors:  Long-tongued bees (especially bumblebees), butterflies and skippers visit for nectar.  Moth caterpillars often feed on the foliage.  The species is generally avoided by mammalian herbivores.

Distribution:  In Kansas, Blue Sage is found in the eastern 3/4s of the state.

Distribution map.

Habitat: Prairies, pastures, and roadsides.

Native status: Native to central and eastern North America.

Conservation status:  In Illinois, Salvia azurea pitcheri is threatened. In Tennessee, Salvia azurea var. grandiflora is of special concern.

Uses: Palatable and nutritious for livestock.

Etymology: The common name “pitcher sage” honors a U.S. army surgeon and botanist, Dr. Zina Pitcher.

Haddock, Michael John. 2005. Wildflowers and Grasses of Kansas. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas.
USDA Plants Database:

Image credits:
Pitcher sage:
Blue sage leaf:
Sage flower:
Distribution map:

Submitted by: Amy Coffman, July 2011.

Wichita State University
Generated on 2011. This website is continuously updated.
Comments can be sent to Mary Liz Jameson.
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