Salvia mellifera, Black sage


1 Gallon
Common Name: Black sage
Type: Evergreen shrub
Foliage: Green, aromatic
Origin: California

Size and Appearance
Bloom Color: Pale lavender to white
Bloom Time: Summer
Height: 4-6′
Width: 4-6′

Exposure: Full sun
Hardiness: 15ºF
Soil: Well drained
Water: Occasional

Special Uses
Slope planting, Dry garden, Revegetation and restoration, Background planting


19 in stock



Black sage is the most common sage in California, and one of the keystone species of the coastal sage scrub plant community in the southern half of the state. Black sages grows quickly up to 3 feet in height, but mature specimens can reach up to 6 feet in height and 10 feet in width. The plant has attractive dark green leaves, with raised texture that looks somewhat like a fingerprint pattern when viewed closely. The leaves are 1-3 inches long. The upper surface of the leaf is somewhat smooth, while the lower surface of the leaf is hairy. It is semi-deciduous, depending on the location and severity of drought. Leaves curl during the summer drought instead of dropping off. The plant is highly aromatic. Flower occurs in 5-1.5″ wide clusters. Flower colors vary from white, to pale blue, to lavender, or rarely to pale rose color. The plant flowers are an important food source for butterflies and hummingbirds. The seeds are an important food for quail and other birds.

Black sage is able to grow on a variety of different soils, including sandstone, shale, granite, serpentinite, and gabbro or basalt. It requires a minimum of 15″ and a maximum of 40″ of rain per year. In the drier part of its range, black sage is happier on flats, mesas or slope bottoms where there is slightly more moisture retained in the soil. Black sages tend to turn yellow and eventually die in poorly draining sites. The plant prefers sun, but tolerates part shade. The normal form of black sage can get very large. Prostrate forms of black sage grow to just 1-2 feet tall by 6 feet in width and tend to be denser than the normal form, making an excellent ground cover.

View Calflora for more information

Pick -up of purchased plants will be Saturday, July 25, from 9-11 am at the CNPS pick-up location off of Broad St in San Luis Obispo. (Note: there is no actual address for this location. It is at the East end of Francis Street in San Luis Obispo, behind Rizzoli’s Auto Repair. Please park on Francis St. while picking up plants.) A sign will be posted on the street. GPS coordinates for Pick-up location: Lat: 35.266967 degrees, Long: -120.651302 degrees. Please only place your order if you are able to pick up your plants on July 25 between 9 and 11 am. There are no options for other pickup times or dates, or shipping of these live plants.