White Sage (Salvia apiana) is native to southern California and Baja California, Mexico and relies on wildfire for seed germination and dispersal. It is a perennial shrub growing mostly in coastal sage scrub habitats as well as the Sonoran and Mojave deserts’ western edges.
Many Native American groups of California traditionally used White Sage in many ways. The seed is toasted, ground, and eaten in pinole. The young stalk was eaten raw; leaves and stems were boiled and made into a brew to drink for various maladies. The smoke from dried bundles of leaves and stems, called smudging, is used to purify homes and used in ceremonies.
Did you know? White Sage is often claimed to be allelopathic, or having the ability to secrete chemicals into the ground which inhibit other plants from growing near or around the shrub.
To see more photographs of the White Sage, please visit the San Diego Natural History Museum’s Flora of Baja California database.
PHOTO CREDIT: Stan Shebs