Salvia azurea

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Salvia azurea
Salvia azurea Gil.jpg
Photo taken by Gil Nelson
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae ⁄ Labiatae
Genus: Salvia
Species: S. azurea
Binomial name
Salvia azurea
Michx. ex Lam.
SALV AZUR dist.jpg
Natural range of Salvia azurea from USDA NRCS Plants Database.

Common names: Azure blue sage, Azure sage

Taxonomic notes

Synonym: Salvia pitcheri Torrey ex Bentham

Subspecies: Salvia azurea Michaux ex Lamarck ssp. pitcheri (Torrey ex Bentham) Epling

Variety: Salvia azurea Michaux ex Lamarck var. grandiflora Bentham; Salvia azurea Michaux ex Lamarck var. azurea


Azurea means "sky blue" referring to the color of the flower; however, some individuals may have white colored flowers.[1] The corolla is typically white or white with blue tint near the petal tips in northern Florida and southern Georgia (KMR).

"Perennial, [or annual] herbs [or shrubs], with erect to ascending quadrangular stems. Leaves toothed or lobed. Inflorescent a thryse, cymules 3-15 flowered. Calyx zygomorphic, 2-lipped; corolla zygomorphic, 2-lipped, blue to violet or red, rarely white. Fertile stamens 2, exserted, sterile stamens present or absent; stigma unequally 2-cleft, exserted."[2]

"Stems 0.7-1.5 m tall, 1-several from a crown, leafy simple or branched above, basal leaves absent. Leaves linear, narrowly elliptic to elliptic-lanceolate, 4-8.5 cm long, 0.3-3 cm wide, acute to obtuse, entire to crenate-serrate, base cuneate to attenuate, petioles obscured by decurrent blade. Calyx 5-8 mm long, upper lip entire, lower 2-toothed, teeth acute, not bristle tipped; corolla blue, 1.3-1.5 cm long; the 2 locules of each anther side by side. Mericarps olive-brown, resinous-glandular, dull, ellipsoid to obovoid, 2.3-2.8 mm long."[2]


In Kansas, it is found abundantly as a native tallgrass prairie perennial.[3]



In the Coastal Plain in Florida and Georgia, S. azurea can be found in upland pinewoods, burned longleaf pine habitats, sandhills, sandy slopes, flatwoods, pine-oak-hickory woods, and mesic longleaf pine-wiregrass woods.[4][1] it can also grow in open slopes of power line corridors. It has been recorded to grow in moist sandy loam.[4] In south Georgia upland pines, it is restricted to native groundcover.[5]

Associated species include longleaf pine, oak species, and wiregrass.[4]

S. azurea reduced its occurrence in response to soil disturbance by agriculture in South Carolina longleaf woodlands.[6] It has shown resistance to regrowth in reestablished longleaf pine woodlands that were disturbed by agricultural practices, making it a possible indicator species for remnant woodlands.[7] Similarly, this species has become absent or decreased its occurrence in response to agriculture in southwest Georgia pinelands.[5]

Salvia azurea is an indicator species for the Clayhill Longleaf Woodlands community type as described in Carr et al. (2010).[8]


This species has been observed to flower from September to November.[1][9] Kevin Robertson has observed this species flower within three months of burning. KMR

Fire ecology

Populations of Salvia azurea have been known to persist through repeated annual burns.[10][11]

Herbivory and toxicology

In general (after experimenting the effects of bison and cattle on growth, reproduction, and abundances of Salvia azurea and other perennials), bison resulted in greater plant biomass and height, and lower number of stems per plant relative to plants in ungrazed sites, whereas cattle resulted in lower plant biomass, plant height, and number of stems per plant.[3]

Conservation, cultivation, and restoration

S. azurea should avoid soil disturbance by agriculture to preserve its presence in pine communities.[5][6][7]

Cultural use

Photo Gallery

References and notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Nelson, Gil. Atlantic Coastal Plain Wildflowers: A Field Guide to the Wildflowers of the Coastal Regions of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Northeastern Florida. Guilford, CT: FalconGuide, 2006. 54. Print.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Radford, Albert E., Harry E. Ahles, and C. Ritchie Bell. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. 1964, 1968. The University of North Carolina Press. 913. Print.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Damhoureyeh, S. A. and D. C. Hartnett. 1997. Effects of bison and cattle on growth, reproduction, and abundances of five tallgrass prairie forbs. American Journal of Botany 84:1719-1728.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Florida State University Robert K. Godfrey Herbarium database. URL: Last accessed: July 2015. Collectors: Roy Komarek, R. A. Norris, Rodie White, Andre F. Clewell, Loran C. Anderson, Travis MacClendon, Karen MacClendon. States and Counties: Florida: Calhoun. Georgia: Decatur, Grady, Thomas. Compiled by Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Ostertag, T.E., and K.M. Robertson. 2007. A comparison of native versus old-field vegetation in upland pinelands managed with frequent fire, South Georgia, USA. Pages 109–120 in R.E. Masters and K.E.M. Galley (eds.). Proceedings of the 23rd Tall Timbers Fire Ecology Conference: Fire in Grassland and Shrubland Ecosystems.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Brudvig, L.A. and E.I. Damchen. (2011). Land-use history, historical connectivity, and land management interact to determine longleaf pine woodland understory richness and composition. Ecography 34: 257-266.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Brudvig, L.A., E Grman, C.W. Habeck, and J.A. Ledvina. (2013). Strong legacy of agricultural land use on soils and understory plant communities in longleaf pine woodlands. Forest Ecology and Management 310: 944-955.
  8. Carr, S.C., K.M. Robertson, and R.K. Peet. 2010. A vegetation classification of fire-dependent pinelands of Florida. Castanea 75:153-189.
  9. Nelson, G. PanFlora: Plant data for the eastern United States with emphasis on the Southeastern Coastal Plains, Florida, and the Florida Panhandle. Accessed: 19 MAY 2021
  10. Robertson, K.M. Unpublished data collected from Pebble Hill Fire Plots, Pebble Hill Plantation, Thomasville, Georgia.
  11. Platt, W.J., R. Carter, G. Nelson, W. Baker, S. Hermann, J. Kane, L. Anderson, M. Smith, K. Robertson. 2021. Unpublished species list of Wade Tract old-growth longleaf pine savanna, Thomasville, Georgia.