Salvia tiliifolia

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Salvia tiliifolia
Salvia tiliifolia05.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Salvia
S. tiliifolia
Binomial name
Salvia tiliifolia

Salvia tilaefolia Vahl

Salvia tiliifolia (lindenleaf sage or Tarahumara chia) is a vigorous, herbaceous annual in the family Lamiaceae that is native to Central America. As a pioneer of abused areas the plant has spread in modern times into: South America as far south as Peru and Bolivia; into Texas and Arizona in the United States; into Africa, including South Africa and Ethiopia; into Yunnan and Sichuan in China.[1][2][3]

This species is native to Mesoamerica and a number of similar species have been domesticated at least as far back as 3,400 BC. Chia was an important item in the Aztec diet and was widely used by them. Salvia tiliifolia is still harvested by the Tarahumara. The Aztecs roasted chia seed mixed with amaranth seed, corn flour and maguey syrup to form a dough named 'tzoalli' in Nahuatl, routinely eaten and still consumed. The roasted seeds were also ground into flour, and formed the main ingredient of a drink known as 'chianatolli'. The roasted seeds are also added to a drink known as 'chia fresca' by the Tarahumara. When chia seeds are soaked they exude a thick mucilage. ‘Chia’ translates to ‘strength’ from Mayan and is prized as an energy-laden food. It contains large amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids as well as iron, calcium and anti-oxidants. Its energy is slowly released in the digestive process which breaks down carbohydrates and converts them to sugar. The Tarahumara attribute their long-distance running prowess to chia. [4]

Salvia tiliifolia grows up to 1 m (3.3 ft) tall, with broadly ovate and petiolate leaves, 5 to 10 cm (2.0 to 3.9 in) long and 4 to 9 cm (1.6 to 3.5 in) wide, that are slightly pubescent, with veins deeply recessed on the upper surface and exserted on the lower, with the margins finely and regularly crenate, bearing a strong resemblance to those of the Tilia or linden tree. The inflorescence can be simple or paniculate with a hispid, ribbed calyx. The dark blue corolla is 5 to 10 mm (0.20 to 0.39 in) long. It is morphologically similar to Salvia personata. Seeds are small, dark and patterned.[1][5]

The plant has spread to many countries, commonly growing in cultivated fields. First described as Salvia tiliaefolia by the botanist Martin Henrichsen Vahl in 1794, Salvia tiliifolia has become naturalised or invaded in Mexico, the United States, Ethiopia (1980s), South Africa (1943) and China (1990s). Its foothold in Ethiopia resulted from its presence in grain distributed in a humanitarian aid program following prolonged droughts, after which the species spread rapidly, being strongly aromatic and shunned by grazing and browsing animals.[5]



  1. ^ a b Wood, J. R. I. (2007). "The Salvias (Lamiaceae) of Bolivia". Kew Bulletin. Springer. 62 (2): 177–207. JSTOR 20443346.
  2. ^ "Salvia tiliifolia Vahl". USDA Plants Profile. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  3. ^ Hu, G.X.; Xiang, C.L.; Liu, E.D. (2013). "Invasion status and risk assessment for Salvia tiliifolia, a recently recognised introduction to China". Weed Research. European Weed Research Society. 53 (5): 355–361. doi:10.1111/wre.12030.
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b Demissew, Sebsebe (February 1996). "A CENTRAL AMERICAN WEEDY SALVIA IN ETHIOPIA" (PDF). Lamiales Newsletter. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 4. ISSN 1358-2305.

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