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Fragrant Pitcher Sage Back to Plant Page
Lepechinia fragrans

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About Fragrant Pitcher Sage (Lepechinia fragrans) Lepechinia fragrans is a flowering herbaceous shrub known by the common names island pitchersage and fragrant pitchersage. It is a member of the Lamiaceae, or mint family, but like other Lepechinia, the flowers are borne in racemes instead of in mintlike whorls. Lepechinia fragrans is endemic to California. It is found in open areas in chaparral, in dry ravines, on rocky slopes and ridgetops, between 60 and 1100 meters. It is known in the Trifuno Pass area of the Santa Monica Mountains and in the San Gabriel Mountains, as well as the north Channel Islands. It may also exist in Ventura County and areas on the south coast below Los Angeles County, California. It is threatened by development and by fire management. While it is not listed as a threatened or endangered plant by the State of California or by the U.S. federal government, it is listed by the California Native Plant Society as a plant of limited distribution which is fairly endangered and should be watched.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
3 - 5 ft (0.9 - 1.5 m)

Max. Width
3 - 5 ft (0.9 - 1.5 m)

Rounded, Spreading

Fragrant - Pleasant

Growth Rate
Fast, Moderate


The fuzzy, fragrant leaves are grey-green in color and evergreen unless drought stressed.

Flower Color
Lavender, Purple

Flowering Season
Spring, Summer, Fall

Native Status
Natural Setting
Site Type
Ravines and rocky slopes, often north-facing where chaparral is the dominant cover

Sun, Part Shade

Elevation ?
7' - 5719'

Annual Precip. ?
11.8" - 36.5"

Summer Precip. ?
0.14" - 1.32"

Coldest Month ?
41.7° F - 56.5° F

Hottest Month ?
62.3° F - 77.4° F

Humidity ?
1.45 vpd - 24.01 vpd

Soil Description
Tolerant of a variety of soils as long as adequate moisture is present

Soil Texture
Clay Loam, Loam, Loamy Sand, Sandy Clay Loam, Sandy Loam

Soil PH
6.0 - 7.0

Fast, Medium, Slow

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 20° F

Sunset Zones ?
7, 14, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18, 19*, 20*, 21, 22, 24*

Companion Plants
Island Alumroot, Santa Cruz Island Gooseberry, Catalina Island Gooseberry, Island Ceanothus, Summer Holly, Tree Poppy, Oak species

Wildlife Attracted
Hummingbirds, insects

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

Water Requirement ?
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Organic with Rocks

May be pruned to shape, but use caution not to over-prune older woody growth

Common uses
Hedges, Deer Resistant, Hummingbird Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Botanical Names
Sphacele wallacei

Common Names
Island Pitchersage, Fragrant Pitchersage

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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