Blaze of Blue #2: Lyreleaf sage

Lyreleaf sage (Salvia lyrata) grows along roadsides including Oslo Road at the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area along with narrowleaf blue-eyed grass. This perennial native wildflower grows from a basal rosette, seeds profusely, and will “fill in” an area if mowed appropriately after seeding.

Below our dog Pepper, who is now in Heaven, provides scale for a big patch of lyre leaf sage at the south labs of the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory.

Its leaves are shaped like a lyre and give rise to the species name lyrata. Some, but not all, leaves are marked with maroon along the midrib (central leaf vein).

Lyreleaf sage is a member of the mint family, Laminaceae, and has characteristic square stems.

Its flower stalks can be up 2′ tall. Flowering progresses from the bottom of the stalk to the top. Flowers are purplish or bluish and the longer bottom lobe provides an inviting landing platform for pollinators.

The genus name, Salvia, comes from the Latin word salvare “to save”. Native Americas used this plant as a staple food and medicine. Other common names meadow sage, cancerweed, and cancer root. The names cancerweed and cancer root refer to the ability of this plant to spread swiftly. The Herb Society of American named lyreleaf sage the Notable Herb of the Year in 2018.

Lyreleaf sage ranges from the mid-Atlantic states to Texas. In tropical Florida where the basal rosettes are always present lyreleaf sage can be used as a ground cover.

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