Pineapple Sage – Salvia elegans

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Salvia elegans, commonly called pineapple sage or tangerine sage, is a perennial shrub native to Mexico and Guatemala. It inhabits Madrean and Mesoamerican pine-oak forests between 1,800 and 2,700 m.

S. elegans has tubular red flowers and an attractive scent to the leaves that is similar to pineapple. It produces numerous erect leafy stems and flowers in the late autumn. The red flowers are attractive to nectar feeding birds and butterflies. It is a short-day plant.

In cultivation, Pineapple sage grows to 1 to 1.5 m tall, with the roots extending underground to form a large clump. The pale yellow-green leaves are veined, and covered with fine hairs. Six to twelve scarlet flowers grow in whorls, with a long inflorescence that blooms gradually and over a prolonged period of time. With a hard frost, the plant will die down to the ground and grow back the following spring.

The leaves and flowers of S. elegans are edible. The plant is extensively used in Mexican traditional medicine, especially for the treatment of anxiety, and also for lowering of blood pressure. Although scientific information about these medicinal properties is scarce, a preliminary study on mice found support for the plant potentially having antidepressant and antianxiety properties. Pineapple sage has also been shown to have a dose-dependent antihypertensive effect, attributed to its action as an angiotensin II receptor antagonist and inhibitor of the angiotensin converting enzyme.