Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Salvia plebeia R.Br.

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
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Leaves and flowers. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO

Brown, R. (1810) Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae : 501. Type: New South Wales, Port Jackson, R. Brown; holo: BM?.

Common name

Australian Sage; Sage, Australian; Common Sage


Usually flowers and fruits as a herb but sometimes grows more than 1 m tall.


Twigs longitudinally ribbed and 4-angled, clothed in pale, +/- erect, multicellular hairs. Leaf blades variable in size, about 5.5-9.5 x 2-4 cm, emitting a faint odour like lantana (Lantana camara) when crushed. Petioles about 2-5 mm long. Both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaf blades clothed in pale, +/- prostrate, multicellular hairs. Dark glands visible on both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaf blade.


Calyx about 3-4 mm long, 3-lobed, glandular hairy on the outer surface. Corolla about 6 mm long, 2-lipped. Staminal filaments joined together towards the base by a saddle-shaped structure. Disk present at the base of the ovary but with a lobe extending up one side like a lobe of the ovary. Ovary consisting of four discrete lobes with the style in the middle.


Fruiting calyx about 7 mm long, longitudinally ribbed and hairy with both glandular and non-glandular hairs. Nutlets about 2 x 1.5 mm. Embryo +/- filling the seed. Cotyledons folded, cordate at the base and much wider than the radicle.


Features not available.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in CYP, NEQ, CEQ and southwards as far as Victoria. Altitudinal range in CYP and NEQ from near sea level to 200 m. Usually grows as a weed of agricultural land but also found along roads and in other disturbed areas in rain forest and open forest. Behaves like a cosmopolitan weed but the earliest collections were made before the establishment of agriculture. Also occurs in Asia and Malesia.

Natural History & Notes

This species has been used medicinally in India. Cribb (1981).

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