Salvia reflexa (Lance-leaved Sage)
|Also known as:||Rocky Mountain Sage, Mintweed|
|Habitat:||sun; dry sandy or rocky soil; prairies, hillsides, roadsides|
|Bloom season:||July - August|
|Plant height:||1 to 2 feet|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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The light blue flowers are borne mostly in opposite pairs, or rarely whorls of 3 or 4, along spike-like racemes from the upper leaf axils. The fused petals form an irregular tube about 1/3 inch long with a small, white, cup-like hood at the top, densely fuzzy on the outer surface. The lower lip is broad and tongue-like, creased down the middle with two side lobes and a round dilated lobe on each side at the tip end. The two stamens stay hidden under the hood with only the single slender style visibly extended, curving around the hood. The leafy calyx is tubular, ½ to ¾ the length of the floral tube and centrally folded, with a single triangular lobe above and two below, and prominently nerved with minute hairs along the main veins.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are simple and opposite, the blade narrowly oblong to lance-oblong, 1 to 2 inches long and less than ¼ to about ½ inch wide, the base tapered to a 1/3 to ¾-inch stalk, and the tip tapering to a dull or almost rounded point. The edges are often cupped upward and are smooth or have a few shallow teeth. Leaves become progressively smaller into the flower cluster where they become less than 1/10 inch long and scale-like. The main stem is erect, with many spreading and diffuse branches on mature plants. Stem surfaces are either smooth or covered with very fine incurled hairs.
Found from coast-to-coast and from Canada to Mexico, Lance-leaved Sage's distribution within that range is surprisingly scattered. Found mostly In Minnesota's western counties, it is less common than one would expect for an annual with such a broad geographic range. Unlike many other members of the mint family, ts leaves are not aromatic when crushed. Lance-leaved Sage is considered adventive in some areas east of the Mississippi River, and is an agricultural pest in Australia, where it was imported (intentionally or not) and is now a noxious weed there. It just goes to show that importing exotic species that turn invasive is not just a problem in the U.S. It is a global issue.
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Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken near Garrison, North Dakota.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?