Perovskia atriplicifolia, Russian sage, is a flowering herbaceous perennial plant or subshrub that is native to central Asia in an area that includes Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, and Tibet. Despite its common name, Russian sage is not in the same genus as other Salvias, which are commonly called "sage".
The intense fragrance of Russian sage is similar to some of the true sages. It was a relatively unknown landscaping plant until the 1990s, despite being mentioned by well known landscape authors such as Gertrude Jekyll and Russell Page.
Russian sage grows on upright, grayish white stems that are 1 to 1.3 m (3.3 to 4.3 ft) tall, with lobed, deeply notched silvery-grey leaves that are approximately 5 cm (2.0 in) by 3 cm (1.2 in) wide. Older stems are woody at the base, and younger stems are herbaceous and square in cross section. The stems and leaves give off a pungent odor when crushed or bruised. In late summer and autumn, Russian sage produces spires of small, tubular flowers of blue or lavender colour. These spires may grow up to 30 cm (12 in) long, and last up to two or three months. Russian sage grows in a clump, up to 1.5 m (59 in) tall with a spread of up to 60 cm (24 in), although cultivars may be smaller. It is considered a sub-shrub.
It requires full sun, but is hardy and cold tolerant. It is also tolerant of dry, chalky soils with a high pH, salt tolerant, and drought tolerant at an established age.
Popular cultivar 'Blue Spire', which has darker blue flowers, may actually be a hybrid of P. atriplicifolia and P. abrotanoides, although it is typically marketed as P. atriplicifolia. It has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.
Culinary and medicinal
In its native habitat, the flowers are eaten fresh, and the leaves are smoked like tobacco for its euphoriant properties. It is also used where it grows in Pakistan and Balochistan for dysentery. In Eurasian herbalism, this plant has a long history of use as a febrifuge.
Although research and data is limited, some identified compounds in this plant include thujone, miltirone, oxy-miltirone, tanshinones, camphor, limonene, α-globulol, trans-caryophyllene, α-humulene, camphene, α-pinene, β-caryophyllene, γ-cadinene, and α-terpinyl acetate.
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- Tareen, Rasool Bakhsh; Tahira Bibi; Mir Ajab Khan; Mushtaq Ahmad; Muhammad Zafar (2010). "Indigenous knowledge of folk medicine by the women of Kalat and Kuzhdar regions of Balochistan, Pakistan" (PDF). Pakistan Journal of Botany 42 (3): 1465–1485. Retrieved 2010-08-30.
- Perovskia atriplicifolia, Plants for a Future
- Jassbi, Amir Reza; \Viqar Uddin Ahmad, Rasool Bakhsh Tareen (January–February 1999). "Constituents of the essential oil of Perovskia atriplicifolia Benth.". Flavour and Fragrance Journal 14 (1): 38–40. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1099-1026(199901/02)14:1<38::AID-FFJ778>3.0.CO;2-8.
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