Salvia is a plant – that much nearly everyone knows – but where exactly does the little beast come from?
The Salvia Divinorum plant has large green leaves, hollow square stems, and white flowers with purple calyces. These calyces a resemble flower heads with what are known as ‘separated’ leaves. the Salvia Divinorum plant produces very few seeds indeed, which makes it unique among the Salvia family. What’s more surprising is that the few Salvia Divinorum seeds that do appear rarely, if ever germinate. Salvia Divinorum’s woes on the reproduction front continue, as its pollen fertility is weak. The only way to get Salvia Divinorum to reproduce is by cutting or layering the plant.
Interestingly, Salvia is what is known as a ‘cultigen’; that is, not occurring in a wild state. The Mazatec Indian Shamans obviously knew that they were on to a good thing when they first spotted it!
All this weakness and apparent sterility would normally indicate that a plant is a hybrid of other species. Whilst this is a possibility in the case of Salvia, no other species has been noted as being a possible parent species. Scientists struggle with this question to this day. The plant itself is almost as enigmatic as the drug that is produced from it!
Salvia is, of course, the close cousin to the Salvia plants that are so popular in our gardens. The plant’s flowers are striking and beautiful; these garden plants do not contain any of the active psychedelic ingredient Salvinorin A. Salvinorin A is the bit that makes Salvia Divinorum usable as a drug, and it is that which the US government is trying so hard to ban from the country.
There is still much to be discovered about this interesting plant, and it is with relish that scientists continue to explore it.
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