Salvia Species, Bee Sage, California White Sage, Sacred White Sage

Salvia apiana

Family: Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Salvia (SAL-vee-uh) (Info)
Species: apiana (a-PEE-an-uh) (Info)
Synonym:Audibertia polystachya
Synonym:Audibertiella polystachya
Synonym:Ramona polystachya
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Tropicals and Tender Perennials


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)


USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Mid Fall


Grown for foliage


Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

From woody stem cuttings

From softwood cuttings

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Foliage Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Orange Beach, Alabama

West Blocton, Alabama

Cornville, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona

Aliso Viejo, California

Ceres, California

Elk Grove, California

Fontana, California

Fremont, California

Hesperia, California

Knights Landing, California

La Quinta, California

Lake San Marcos, California

Lemon Grove, California

Long Beach, California

Merced, California

Oceanside, California

Palm Springs, California

Rancho Palos Verdes, California

Richmond, California

Riverside, California

San Diego, California

San Jose, California

Santa Clara, California

Stockton, California

Temecula, California

Ventura, California

Vista, California(9 reports)

Loxahatchee, Florida

Townsend, Georgia

Hagerman, Idaho

Dighton, Massachusetts

Halifax, Massachusetts

Saint Louis, Missouri

Henderson, Nevada

Rodeo, New Mexico

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Austin, Texas

Belton, Texas

Roy, Utah

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Gardeners' Notes:


On Jun 2, 2019, Kai_Ote from Lemon Grove, San Diego, CA wrote:

This is probably the most famous North American sage, known for its legendary cultural value to Native peoples. I grew up in the California coastal mountains and the smell of White Sage instantly takes me back to the mysterious winding precipices of the Ventana Wilderness.

Unfortunately, "New Age" superstition industry creates a demand for pirated White Sage. Ive seen hillsides of this fragrant native stripped and hauled away in garbage bags for sale.

More the pity, because live White Sage can be honestly purchased at small nurseries, and sustainably home-grown just about anywhere in Zones 9 to 11. Once established, they demand little and are forgivingly undeterred by frosty or scorching weather.

We have a thriving sage garden ourselves, wit... read more


On Mar 30, 2016, Lodewijkp from Zwolle,
Netherlands (Zone 7a) wrote:

In many ways a great plant with great uses. In the past i have bought white sage dried as a incense, using it for ritualistic purposes or just smudging my room.

I also have smoken white sage on multiple occasions, it's one of the harshest smokes but is definitely psychoactive. It somehow gives somekind of relaxation and meditative mindset. I also believe that like many salvia this one probably contain unique alkaloids.

I grow them out of seed every year. About 30 % of the seeds wil germinate without stratification but keep in mind some seedlings will succumb. Stratification for a few weeks doubles the germination rate.

Like all salvia species i germinate them in water, in my opinion this is the only fast and reliable way to germinate all salv... read more


On Jul 4, 2012, ClimbTheMtns from Walnut Creek, CA wrote:

Stake the flower stalks as they sometimes break from the weight of Gold Finches or other types of finches that LOVE the seeds. I always let ours go to seed for the birds. Easy to grow from seed.


On Jun 2, 2011, Dionkar333 from San Jose, CA wrote:

@Lilithu: Artemisia Apiana is a non-existent plant. Sagebrush is Artemisia Tridentata. The Native Americans used and still use Salvia Apiana and Salvia Officinalis, among other plants. Please, get your facts straight before posting misleading information for those who would not know better.

Salvia Apiana is not toxic. In fact, it is used to cleanse the body, and has been proven useful against colds and coughs.

I find this to be a very charming plant. The history of it is attractive, but so is the foliage and the smell. Some people don't like the smell, but I think it is wonderful. White Sage is excellent for xeriscaping, and I have it planted in the most neglected parts of my garden and it is thriving. I had no problem growing it from seed, and this has defini... read more


On Apr 5, 2011, Lilithu from Springfield, TN wrote:

I think people have been confusing this herb with Sagebrush (Artemisia apiana) - folk name - White sage. That is the herb that the American Indians used in smudging - so maybe this sage is one to avoid IF toxic. I grew this herb thinking it was Sagebrush - but still attractive & I'm sure it will be fine to use for smudging in place of Sagebrush - maybe just be careful with the fumes!


On Aug 21, 2010, SohamArt from Henderson, NV wrote:

GROWING IT: While establishing it needs regular watering, then reduce to little water or you will reduce the plants life span. 4th year growing it in the Mojave Desert in full sun, doesn't flinch in 100-120 degrees when other plants go into a 'dormant-state'. Almost maintence free; just cut back the flower stalks.

USES: I & the humming birds absolutely love this plant; they guard it & have nested nearby. Soft breezes scent the garden. Fresh/dry herbs for cooking and teas. Cuttings for smudge sticks & potpourri/sachets. Therapeutic dry bath a dog with fresh leaves; rub all over. The herbal/therapeutic uses/benefits are vast; it is necessary & easy to self-educate. One mature plant is sufficient for the averge famies needs.

BUGS & CATS: Adding dried leaves to mu... read more


On Apr 6, 2008, paracelsus from Elmira, NY (Zone 6a) wrote:

Smudging with this plant will not make a pregnant woman miscarry or nauseous. In fact, among the native peoples who use it, this plant is specifically used during childbirth.

Please don't post hearsay about herbs. When you post an assertion about toxicity, give references to back up your assertions.

This plant is great to grow in warm environments. Growing your own will mean less stripping of the herb in the wild.


On Aug 27, 2004, daisyavenue from Long Beach, CA (Zone 10b) wrote:

This is a lovely fragrant salvia and may be divided at the roots but be careful as it does not like being translplanted very much. It is best (and very easy) to propagate buy cuttings.


On Apr 7, 2003, siren wrote:

On TOXICITY of Salvia Apiana: many people burn the dried leaves of this plant an an aromatherapeutic incense, or "smudge" (a Native American cleansing practice). The smoke of the burning herb is toxic to pregnant women (will cause nausea/vomiting, and may in extreme cases cause miscarriage).


On Aug 10, 2001, Lilith from Durham,
United Kingdom (Zone 8a) wrote:

Culinary, decorative and medicinal use. Sort of a woody plant. Used to make smudge sticks in cermonies in Native American rituals. Aromatic. Used in honey. Many medicinal and household uses. It's more of a shrub, really. Harvest after plants have established themselves. In the second and following years, cut the stems about a half foot from soil as flowers bloom. Then hang upside down in ventilated dry room.