From the plant-rich Cape of South Africa to to the Highlands of Ethiopia, the African continent has some of the most unusual and floriferous Salviasanywhere in the world. Most are also drought and heat tolerant.
Many of these sages are the subjects of modern medical research, because indigenous African peoples have a long history of using them in herbal remedies and still rely on them medically. All the ones we grow and list here are beautiful and reliable garden performers.
(Blue African Sage or Blousalie) A handsome, densely branched shrub with small, gray leaves, this Salvia puts on a show when in full bloom. The pale blue flowers bloom on foot-long spikes that cover the plant. Each flower has a large, trumpet-shaped, green-and-red bract at its base.
(Cut Leaf African Blue Sage) In botanical names, aurita means “ear shaped.” It’s the ear-like lobes of this sage’s leaves that give the species part of its name Salvia aurita ssp. galpinii. The cut leaf foliage is heavily lobed, mint green and lightly hairy.
(Lancelot Wooly Canary Island Sage) Salvia canariensis ‘Lancelot’ has lavender flowers shaped like parrot beaks that are surrounded by deep rosy-lavender bracts.
(Rough Blue Sage) Honeybees and butterflies love this deer-resistant shrub, which grows wild on the southwestern Cape of South Africa. It is a member of the most diverse plant community in the world, the fynbos -- an Afrikaans word, meaning "fine bush" and referring to scrub plants or shrubbery.
(Sardinian Sage) This is another must-have Salvia for mild, Mediterranean climate gardens. It has elegant foliage and lovely, bright rose-to-lavender flowers. Sardinian Sage spreads non-invasively as an herbaceous perennial and almost never stops blooming for us on the coast of Northern California.
(Pilgram's Rest Pink Sage) Spring into summer, this heat-tolerant sage from South Africa produces lilac and white blossoms with profuse, fragrant, gray foliage. It's the burgundy calyxes, which turn a rusty pink after the flowers blossom, that give this sage part of its common name.
(Greek Sage) Most of the dried culinary sage sold in the United States is Greek Sage. Frescoes on the island of Crete dated to 1400 BC depict this plant, which was used by the Phoenicians and Greeks for cooking and medicine. It is an ancient and beloved friend of mankind.
(Xobo Valley Sage) Although petite, the rare Xobo Valley Sage is eyecatching due to its lacy, bright green foliage and powder blue flowers. It's even possible that this long-blooming sage may have caught Nelson Mandela's eye as he grew up in the Wild Coast area of South Africa's Eastern Cape.
(Mauretania Tingitana Sage) Native to Northern Africa and Saudi Arabia, this sage gets by on little water. and has a long history of cultivation going back 400 years. It wove throughout various countries in the Middle East and North Africa before arriving in Europe in the 1700s and was first described scientifically in 1777.
(Wild Sage) Toothed and attractively wrinkled, the gray-green, basal foliage of Wild Sage contrasts prettily with deep lavender-to-purple flowers supported by grassy green bracts. This cold-hardy sage is native to northern Africa and parts of Asia and Europe.