Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Salvia lyrata (Lyre leaf sage)

Salvia lyrata is a native wildflower with light blue to violet flowers.  Blooms appear on 1 to 1.5 foot tall flower spikes in early spring.  The tubular flowers provide food for hummingbirds and many species of butterflies.  This salvia will grow in full sun to medium shade.  It thrives throughout the eastern U.S. in zones 6-9.
On the close-up photo you can see the angular stems that are typical of most species in the Lamiaceae family.  Individual flowers are about an inch long.

The plant is compatible with most perennial lawn grasses and is sometimes used in roadside wildflower plantings.  When naturalized in grasses, the foliage lays flat against the ground and the plant is somewhat inconspicuous except when in flower.  The deeply lobed foliage usually has dark purple markings and when planted alone in beds it forms a low-growing evergreen groundcover.  Seed heads turn brown and drop fresh seed about a month after flowering.

Flat rosette typical of plants in grassed areas. 

 To the right:  Clumping growth habit when grown in beds.

A few of the leaf variations found on my property ranging from nearly solid purple and deeply lobed, to mostly green and fewer lobes.

The young leaves have a minty flavor and can be used raw in salads, or cooked.  The entire plant can be harvested and dried (when in bloom) and brewed into a tea.


Laurrie said...

Love the blue! The leaves are unusual, reminded me a little of tiarella, (foamflower) with the streaky purple. I can see why it's called lyre-leaf, at least some of the leaf shapes.

NanaK said...

Interesting post. I grow quite a few different salvias that happily reseed but I don't have this one. I love the native wildflowers. I don't have a good spot for a wildflower meadow but I'm trying to talk my daughter into one at her home. LOL. Her husband doesn't share my enthusiasm.

Floridagirl said...

Hi, GrowerJim! Glad to see this post! My mom pointed this out to me in her lawn this past weekend. Said she didn't want to pull it because it was such a pretty weed. : )

Ami said...

Beautiful flower. I think it will look very nice if planted in mass.

RBell said...

Enjoyed these in my garden, but they faded away after a few years. Likely not enough sunshine. Real nice flowers and foliage.

Sandy said...

Maybe that's how I can control this stuff, I'll eat it! Beautiful as it is, it is really invasive here, nearly as bad as chickweed and henbit. I always leave a few plants each year tho, 'cause I am a sucker for a pretty face.! The "Purple Profusion" has nice purple foliage.