Foliage Friday: Salvia Amistad

The next plant I’m learning about on Foliage Friday is Salvia ‘Amistad,’ also known as Friendship Sage. (Amistad means friendship in Spanish.)

Salvia Amistad at Gamble Gardens.

It is a relatively new member of the very large Salvia genus. I haven’t been able to find out how it got it’s name, but it is a hybrid, discovered in Argentina, and thought to be a cross between S. guaranitica and S. gesneriiflora. It’s winter hardy in zones 8-10 (I’m in zone 9), and has vibrant dark purple blooms that are unidirectional.

I’m not the only one that has taken notice of Salvia Amistad. I often see bees and hummingbirds buzzing around the flowers, but they move too quickly for me to get a good photo of them. Additionally, the Royal Horticultural Society gave it the Award of Garden Merit (there are 7,500 other plants that also have that award, though, so it’s not that special). People seem to love it because it is super easy to care for, and it produces dark, vibrant flowers from June until October or even November.

There are tons of plants in the Salvia genus. What makes a plant a Salvia? Well, the answer is complicated. Salvias were originally lumped together because they have a unique pollination mechanism (something having to do with two stamens acting as levers…I don’t really understand it). It was thought that all plants that have this mechanism probably evolved from the same ancestor, but that turns out not to be true. Molecular studies (phylogenetics) have demonstrated that there were probably actually three unique ancestors that developed the lever mechanism – this is an example of convergent evolution. In order for plants to be classified together in the same genus, they should all have evolved from the same ancestor. Therefore, one could argue the Salvia genus should actually be three different genera. However, there are so many Salvias (Salviae?) that if we broke up the Salvia genus, we would have to rename a lot of plants, so people decided to just leave it. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The kitchen herb, sage, is one of the more familiar members of the group (Salvia officianalis), but did you know that rosemary is also a Salvia? Salvia rosmarinus. Rosemary used be separately classified as Romarinus officianalis, but it was discovered/decided recently that Rosemary was actually just another salvia. Sigh. (The linked paper also goes more in depth into the morphologic vs molecular or phylogenetic classification schemes of Salvia if you’re curious.)

Another large Salvia Amistad towering over a boxwood hedge.

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