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An evergreen shrub up to 3 or 4 ft high; young shoots soft, slender, square, downy, reddish purple. Leaves opposite, ovate, round-toothed, 1 to 11⁄2 in. long (to 3 in. on sterile shoots); dull green and slightly downy on both surfaces; stalk 1⁄4 to 1 in. long. Flowers produced mostly in pairs on terminal racemes up to 6 in. long, opening successively from June onwards. They are about 1 in. long, the lip of the corolla 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. wide, rich red on first opening, changing with age to magenta-purple; the upper, hooded part of the corolla is rosy red. Calyx tubular, 1⁄3 in. long, ribbed, downy, reddish above.
Native of Mexico; introduced by G. J. Graham about 1830 to the Horticultural Society’s garden at Chiswick and described by Bentham under the still familiar name of S. grahamii. But Bentham was aware that Graham’s salvia was very near to the earlier-named S. microphylla, and there can be no doubt that the two represent states of the same species, the type of S. microphylla being dwarfer and with smaller leaves than the type of S. grahamii but otherwise essentially the same.
S. microphylla is quite hardy in the south and south-western counties and even in less favoured parts will live for several years in a sheltered nook or against a wall. There is no difficulty in keeping up a stock, as cuttings root most freely and will flower well in the following summer. A peculiarity of the plant is the strong odour given off by the leaves when they are crushed or rubbed. This almost exactly resembles the odour of black currant leaves.
S. neurepia Fern.
S. grahamii Hort., in part