Asia is a huge continent and home to Salvias in countries other than China and Japan. A wealth of species are found in the Himalayas, the steppes of Central Asia and the Middle Eastern lands of the Fertile Crescent, including Israel.
The sages listed here are a diverse group, and many are not well known in the general nursery trade. We encourage you to explore these gems of the plant world.
(Turkish Tea Sage) Sometimes an attractive plant is also medically powerful. That's true of the lavender flowered Salvia aucheri, which has strong white beelines. This Turkish native is consumed as an ingredient in teas used as folk remedies for many problems, including abdominal bloating and infections.
(Nan dan shen) Lavender and pearly white blossoms shaped like parrot beaks are supported by burgundy and green calyxes on this cold-tolerant plant from Southern China. In summer, the flowers grow in whorl-like clusters on spikes reaching up to 5 feet tall above large, fuzzy, pinnate, olive-green leaves.
(Purple & Yellow Yunnan Sage or ji ye shu wei cao) Confusion about this plant's scientific name cause it to appear in some sources as Salvia flava var. megalantha. Whatever you call it, this Chinese species from Yunnan Province has enchanting yellow and purple flowers that attract viewers as well as honeybees.
(Wand Sage) Whorls of deep violet blossoms are cupped by dark bracts on the flower spikes of this mid-height herbaceous sage from Turkey. Its foliage is thick, corrugated and fragrant. This plant is lovely and hardy, so it is surprising that it wasn’t introduced to commercial cultivation until 2007.
(Caucasus Sage) This hardy ground cover sage grows 4 to 12 inches tall and 12 inches wide. The velvety white fur of its foliage aids moisture retention. Its soft, royal purple flowers make it stand out. We think this Salvia deserves to spread far and wide.
(Golden Leaf Sage) A tinge of gold in its fuzzy, pebbled foliage gives Salvia chrysophylla its common name. Abundant lavender flowers with pale cream lower lips make it stand out in the landscape.
(Blue Turkish Sage) Large velvety gray-green to white leaves in loose rosettes give this sage a distinctive look as does the celestial violet-blue of its flowers. The blossoms seem much too large for this short sage and its thin, candelabra-branched flower spikes.
(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.
(Makino) We would grow this rare clone of the woodland Japanese native Salvia glabrescens even if it never flowered, because the arrow-shaped foliage is so lush, toothed and colorful. As they age, the arrow-shaped leaves transform from yellowish green to dark green.
(Jupiter's Distaff) Easy to grow and adaptable to a wide range of conditions, this native of Europe and Asia is our best tall, yellow-flowering perennial. Although its common name compares the flower spikes to wool spindles, they look more like glowing sceptres.
(Jerusalem Sage) This lovely herbaceous perennial is native to Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank. Its clear pink flowers change at times to a pink highlighted with violet lines and dots. Prominent glandular hairs on the buds, bracts and floral stems exude a fragrance that is delightful on a warm day.
(Turkish Mountain Sage) Part of the Salvia canescens group of Mediterranean sages, this dwarf species features lavender parrot-type flowers with whitish lower lips (or should we say beaks!).
(Japanese Woodland Sage or Shu Wei Cao) This short, lavender-flowered, ornamental sage has purple-to-green foliage. In Asia, this woodland plant has long been an important medicinal herb, used in the treatment of conditions such as diabetes.
(Judean Sage) Native to the mountains of Judea in Israel, this dark violet flowered, perennial sage is unique among the Palestinian Salvias - as a woodland native it grows well in partial shade. It is a tough, drought-resistant plant with deeply cut & hairy foliage which forms impressive mounds of color in the spring and early summer.
(Yugoslavian Cut Leaf Sage) This is a rare Baltic steppe plant that grows beautifully in sunny locations with little water and excellent drainage. It is endemic to a the Orlova Brdo region of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
(Shinano-akigiri) Japan's largest island, Honshu, is home to Salvia koyamae, a shade- and moisture-loving herbaceous perennial that is perfect for woodland gardens or shady borders. It is notable for yellow flowers, which bloom from late summer into fall, as well as arrow-shaped foliage.
(Red Sage, Chinese Sage, Dan-shen) The bright red, finger-like roots of Salvia miltiorrhiza have a long history in traditional Chinese herbal medicine.
(Kyushu Woodland Sage) We are in love with this short forest sage from Kyushu, Japan. Its clusters of large creamy flowers pale as fresh-churned butter begin blooming in September. Even when not blooming, its foliage is showy in a shady garden.