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Classification System: APG IV

Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiosperms
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: Core eudicots
Cladus: Asterids
Cladus: Lamiids
Ordo: Lamiales

Familia: Lamiaceae
Subfamilia: Nepetoideae
Tribus: Mentheae
Subtribus: Salviinae
Genus: Salvia
Subgenus: S. subg. Calosphace
Sectio: S. sect. Fulgentes
Species: Salvia microphylla

Salvia microphylla Kunth in Humb. & al., Nov. Gen. Sp. (quarto ed.) 2: 295. 1818 publ. 1817.


Salvia microphylla Sessé & Moc. = Salvia melissodora Lag., Gen. Sp. Pl.: 2 (1816).


S. × jamensis

Salvia grahamii Benth., Edwards's Bot. Reg. 16: t. 1370 (1831).
Lasemia coccinea Raf., Fl. Tellur. 3: 91 (1837), nom. superfl.
Lesemia coccinea Raf., Fl. Tellur. 3: 91 (1837), nom. superfl.
Salvia obtusa M.Martens & Galeotti, Bull. Acad. Roy. Sci. Bruxelles 11(2): 72 (1844).
Salvia lemmonii A.Gray, Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts 20: 309 (1885).
Salvia microphylla var. canescens A.Gray, Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts 21: 407 (1886).
Salvia microphylla var. wislizeni A.Gray, Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts 21: 408 (1886).
Salvia odoratissima Sessé & Moc., Fl. Mexic.: 7 (1892).
Salvia gasterantha Briq., Bull. Herb. Boissier 4: 858 (1896).
Salvia neurepia Fernald, Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts 35: 535 (1900).
Salvia microphylla var. neurepia (Fernald) Epling, Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. Beih. 110: 278 (1939).

Native distribution areas:

Continental: Northern America
Regional: Southwestern USA
Regional: Mexico
Mexico Central, Mexico Gulf, Mexico Northeast, Mexico Northwest, Mexico Southeast, Mexico Southwest
Continental: Southern America
Regional: Central America
Introduced into:
Argentina Northeast, Argentina Northwest, Greece,itzerland.html">Switzerland, Morocco, New Zealand North, Portugal, Spain, Texas, Tunisia, Uruguay

References: Brummitt, R.K. 2001. TDWG – World Geographical Scheme for Recording Plant Distributions, 2nd Edition
Primary references

Humboldt, A., Bonpland, A. & Kunth, C.S. 1817–1818 ["1817"]. Nova genera et species plantarum, quas in peregrinatione ad plagam aequinoctialem orbis novi collegerunt, descripserunt, partim adumbraverunt Amat. Bonpland et Alex. de Humboldt. Tomus 2 (quarto ed.). 406 pp., tt. 97–192. Sumtibus Librariae Graeco-Latino-Germanicae, Lutetiae Parisiorum [Paris]. BHL Reference page. : 2: 295.

Additional references

Govaerts, R.H.A. 2003. World Checklist of Selected Plant Families Database in ACCESS: 1-216203. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. [unavailable for the public] Reference page.


Govaerts, R. et al. 2022. Salvia microphylla in World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published online. Accessed: 2022 May 13. Reference page.
Hassler, M. 2022. Salvia microphylla. World Plants: Synonymic Checklists of the Vascular Plants of the World In: Roskovh, Y., Abucay, L., Orrell, T., Nicolson, D., Bailly, N., Kirk, P., Bourgoin, T., DeWalt, R.E., Decock, W., De Wever, A., Nieukerken, E. van, Zarucchi, J. & Penev, L., eds. 2022. Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life. Published online. Accessed: 2022 May 13. Reference page. 2022. Salvia microphylla. Missouri Botanical Garden. Published online. Accessed: 13 May 2022.
International Plant Names Index. 2022. Salvia microphylla. Published online. Accessed: May 13 2022.

Vernacular names
català: Sàlvia de fulla petita
Deutsch: Johannisbeer-Salbei
English: Baby sage, Graham's sage, Blackcurrant sage
español: Mirto de monte
فارسی: مریم‌گلی میکروفیلا
français: Sauge à petites feuilles
日本語: アキノベニバナサルビア、チェリーセージ

Salvia microphylla, the baby sage, Graham's sage, or blackcurrant sage, is an evergreen shrub found in the wild in southeastern Arizona and the mountains of eastern, western, and southern Mexico. It is a very complex species which easily hybridizes, resulting in numerous hybrids and cultivars brought into horticulture since the 1990s. The specific epithet microphylla, from the Greek, means "small leaved". In Mexico it is called mirto de montes, or "myrtle of the mountains".[1]

S. microphylla 'Hot Lips'

Salvia microphylla grows to 1 to 1.3 m (3.3 to 4.3 ft) tall and wide, blooming in its first year and growing to full size in its second year. The leaves are ovate shaped, of varying sizes, and smooth or lightly covered with hairs. When crushed, the leaves have a strong fragrance, which has been described as pleasant and mint-like, but also as similar to that of blackcurrants, leading to the use of "blackcurrant sage” as an English name for this species.[2] It sometimes spreads underground, producing dense patches.[1]

Along with its cultivars and hybrids, S. microphylla blooms heavily in late spring and again in autumn, with sporadic flowering year-round in mild conditions. The flowers are arranged in whorls, with a wide range of color: magenta, red, pink, and rose.[1]
S. microphylla

Botanist Carl Epling considered Salvia microphylla to have three geographical races, though the wide variation still causes confusion today, and there are conceivably more than three races. Adding to the confusion, Salvia microphylla is often mistaken for Salvia greggii, with which it frequently hybridizes. Epling distinguishes between the two by the S. microphylla leaves, which have serrated edges, compared to the narrow, elliptic, and smooth-edged S. greggii leaves — and by a pair of papillae inside the S. microphylla corolla.[1]

In the U.S. it is sometimes called "Graham's sage," as it was named Salvia grahamii by George Bentham. It was also named Salvia neurepia by Merritt Lyndon Fernald. Both these botanic names are considered invalid as they are later than microphylla.

There is also confusion between Salvia microphylla and Salvia lemmonii, which was named by Asa Gray. Later, Gray began calling it Salvia microphylla var. wislizeni, considering it to be a variety of S. microphylla, though most taxonomies still consider S. lemmonii to be a unique species.[1] S. lemmonii has leaves that are 1.5 to 3 cm (0.59 to 1.18 in) long, which are furry and sharp-pointed, along with flowers that are often vermilion or magenta, with the inflorescence shorter than that of S. microphylla. var. neurepia.[3]
Cultivars and hybrids

Some cultivars are hybrids with Salvia greggii (known as Salvia × jamensis) and other Salvia species; collectively they may be called "Mexican salvias".[4] Technically they are evergreen shrubs or sub-shrubs, though they are not reliably hardy and are also short-lived. However, they are easy to propagate from cuttings. Those marked AGM have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[5]

'Alba': White flowers
'Blush Pink': Rich pink flowers[3]
'Cerro Potosi':AGM[6] Large vibrant magenta flowers
'Desert Blaze': Bright red flowers, variegated yellow and green leaves
'Forever Red': Shrublike, long-blooming, scarlet flowers
'Graham's Sage': Many red flowers blooming simultaneously
'Hoja Grande': Magenta-red flowers and dark green leaves
'Hot Lips':AGM[7] Flowers with a white base and bright red top
'James Compton': Oval, serrated leaves; large, dark crimson flowers[3]
'Kew Red': Vigorous grower with vivid red flowers
'La Foux': Deep crimson flowers with dark calyces
'La Trinidad Pink': Bright pink flowers
var. neurepia (Fern.) Epling: Flowers cherry red in autumn[3]
'Newby Hall': 6 feet (2m),[3] bright scarlet flowers
'Oxford': Dark pink flowers
'Pat Vlasto' (S. × jamensis): Leaves unserrated; peach-orange blossoms[3]
'Pink Blush': Free flowering, rose-magenta flowers
'Pleasant View': Pink flowers
'Red Velvet': Lustrous red flowers
‘Ribambelle’:AGM[8] a profusion of salmon pink flowers
'Rosita': Repeat bloomer with bright candy-pink flowers
'Royal Bumble':agm[9] large deep crimson flowers on a bushy evergreen plant
'Ruth Stungo': Leaves variegated green and white[3]
'San Carlos Festival: magenta-scarlet flowers, gray-green leaves
'Trebah': Upright, lilac white flowers
'Trelawney': Upright, rose-pink flowers
'Trelissick': Upright, creamy yellow flowers
'Trenance': Upright, lilac-pink flowers
'Trewithin': Upright, cerise flowers
'Wild Watermelon': large pink flowers with dark calyces[1]


Salvia microphylla is grown in central Mexico as a medicinal plant, and used for making tea.[10]

Clebsch, Betsy; Barner, Carol D. (2003). The New Book of Salvias. Timber Press. pp. 192–193. ISBN 978-0-88192-560-9.
See e.g. Norfolk Herbs online catalogue, archived from the original on 20 August 2010, retrieved 20 August 2010
Mark Griffiths. Index of Garden Plants, 2nd American Edition. (Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, 1995; ISBN 0-88192-246-3).
Dyson, William (September 2015). "RHS trial of Mexican Salvia". The Plantsman. New Series. 14 (3): 158–164.
"AGM Plants - Ornamental" (PDF). Royal Horticultural Society. July 2017. p. 94. Retrieved 12 October 2018.
"RHS Plantfinder - Salvia microphylla 'Cerro Potosi'". Retrieved 12 October 2018.
"RHS Plantfinder - Salvia 'Hot Lips'". Retrieved 12 October 2018.
"RHS Plantfinder - Salvia 'Ribambelle'". Retrieved 23 September 2018.
"Salvia 'Royal Bumble'". RHS. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
Hanelt, Peter; Büttner, R.; Mansfeld, Rudolf; Kilian, Ruth (2001). Mansfeld's Encyclopedia of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops. Springer. p. 2022. ISBN 978-3-540-41017-1.

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