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White Sage
Salvia apiana
About White Sage (Salvia apiana) Nurseries Show All Photos White sage, bee sage, or sacred sage, is one of the cornerstone species of the coastal sage scrub habitat of Southern California and Baja California. It grows rapidly to 3 or 4 feet tall, with white flower spikes shooting up sometimes 8 feet or more. The leaves (about 1.5-3 inches long) are covered with dense hairs, which give them a white coloring, sometimes with a blueish tint. Younger leaves tend to be greener, and turn whiter as they get older. Each flower spikes bears ~100 white flowers with tiny lavender spots and streaks. From a few feet away, the white flowers sometimes appear to have a purplish tint. White sage is strongly aromatic, with a powerful and slightly acrid sage smell. Native people use the dried leaves as an incense for ceremonial purposes. Var. apiana is more common but var. compacta may be superior for the garden due to its less sprawling habit. Either will attract a variety of birds and insects.
Plant Description
Plant Type

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

Max. Width
3 - 8 ft (0.9 - 2.4 m)


Fragrant - Pleasant

Growth Rate
Fast, Moderate

Summer Semi-Deciduous

Grey-green to white, 4-8 cm long, intensely aromatic

Flower Color

Flowering Season
Spring, Summer, Winter

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Dry slopes, foothills, canyons, and mesas of Southern California and Baja California, Mexico, in the Transverse and Peninsular Ranges. A major component of chaparral, coastal sage scrub and inland sage scrub plant communities, including desert transition zone. At higher elevations it is sometimes found in openings in pine forest.


Elevation ?
7' - 7394'

Annual Precip. ?
3.8" - 37.6"

Summer Precip. ?
0.14" - 2.84"

Coldest Month ?
35.6° F - 59.1° F

Hottest Month ?
62.1° F - 87.7° F

Humidity ?
0.72 vpd - 38.56 vpd

Soil Description
Adaptable to a variety of soil types

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

Soil PH
6.0 - 8.0

Fast, Medium

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 0° F

Sunset Zones ?
7*, 8, 9, 11, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17, 18*, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*

Companion Plants
Wildlife Attracted
Hummingbirds, insects, esp. carpenter bees and bumble bees

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Very Easy

Water Requirement ?
Extremely Low, Very Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water, 1x/month
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Organic with Rocks

Flower stalks may be removed when finished in late Summer. Sprawling branches may be removed if desired at any time

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: No treatment; sow outdoors in early fall. Germination may be poor if diurnal fluctuation is insuff icient; also see alternative treatments for S. mellifera.

Common uses
Bank Stabilization, Groundcovers, Hedges, Deer Resistant, Hummingbird Gardens, Bird Gardens, Butterfly Gardens, Bee Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Botanical Names
Salvia apiana var. apiana

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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