Wild Salvia flowers
Wild clary – Salvia verbenaca
I came across a vibrant swathe of blue-purple Clary flowers on the margin of a local playing field in Seaford Sussex in June. I also saw this Salivia there the previous year in May but got hardly get any pics as I was in a hurry. It’s locally frequent here in the South East but as a gardener I’m aware that Salvias are popular garden plants, so you never know the origin of any particular plant in a town setting – this was well established in any case!
Purple flowers of Salvia
The flower spikes were about 40cm tall. The spikes each held many whorls of deep purple flowers with dark purple calyces (the bit between the flower and the stalk). Each purple flower had two white spots on the lower lip. The flowers were about 1cm long.
Something that struck me when I got in close was how hairy the plant was, with a tiny bead of moisture on each little hair. Rose describes the flowers as “sticky-downy” so I guess the beads were essential oils rather than pure water. The plant is from the Mint family so, like Stachys and Betonica, Salvias have square stems (see below) and can be aromatic.
Wild Clary leaves
I didn’t see a rosette of basal leaves but the grass the flowers were growing in was longish so may have covered them. The leaves on the flower stem were a few cm long and oval in shape, with a midrib and jagged teeth.
In retrospect I should have touched the hairs to see if they were sticky, and rubbed the stems to see if there was a sage fragrance – maybe in 2023 🙂