Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wildflower Wednesday~Salvia lyrata

Some folks still insist that this delightful wildflower is a lawn weed!
But, not me! Lyre Leaf Sage is one of my best ever lawn substitutes.

It makes a charming evergreen groundcover with ajuga-like foliage
and pale blue flowers in the spring. In fact, it's a nice substitute for ajuga;
which has been moved to the invasives watch list in several states.

It has spread gently, not aggressively, in the clay soil of the lawnette,
along with clover and Western Daisy.
It spreads by runners and seed, so it
can be found several feet away from the mother plant.
It might be more minty aggressive in other soils; but here not so much.

Western Daisy/Astranthium integrifolium

As an aside~The Western Daisy is a native annual
with pink and lavender hints to the petals.
She was already growing in my yard; so I've never tried to locate seeds.

S. lyrata is native to the wood's edge, thickets, roadsides,
tall meadows and lawns of the eastern US.
Give it full sun, sandy or clay soil and occasional moisture!
Our summer droughts and humidity don't phase it!
I've noticed that it often reblooms after a mowing,
although the flower stem will be shorter!

S lyrata makes a nice addition to a garden bed...
You can find new hybrids with bigger, bluer flowers
and burgundy rosettes.
They are quite nice.
But, the species, which I grow here,
really shines in a massed planting....
So give it the space to do its thing!
Here's a quote from the Lady Bird Johnson NPIN site that you might like!

The exposed lower lip of this and other salvias provides an excellent landing platform for bees.

When a bee lands, the two stamens are tipped, and the insect is doused with pollen."

Is that not the coolest!

Wildflower Wednesday is about sharing wildflowers/natives/naturally occurring plants no matter where you garden~the UK, tropical Florida, Europe, Australia, Africa, South America, India or the coldest reaches of Canada. It doesn't matter if we sometimes show the same plants. How they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most.

I hope you join the celebration..It's always the fourth Wednesday of the month!


Go here to see other WW posts~
In The Garden
Mr McGregor's Daughter
The Bicycle Garden
My Secret Garden
Leaves and Blooms


  1. Gail, it is always a delight to come here on WW snd see your lovely wildflowers. This is one I am not familiar with- no sandy or clay soil here. It does look gorgeous in masses and I can see why you are smitten with these delicate blooms.

  2. I don't think I've seen this before either. Pretty neat little white flower though!

  3. Uh oh. I thought it was the third Wednesday! Better change that PDQ! Be back for a real comment in a minute!

  4. Gail girl ! Good Morning : ) We had wet snow yesterday so it was NOT a fun day BUT .. Millar has started his crew yesterday and took all the wooden ties out ..plus the lilac for my sweetie the Fame maple .. yipeeee !
    OK .. enough of that ? LOL .. love this little shiny white beauty ! I love a touch of white in the garden and this is a lovely girl : )
    I have really enjoyed these posts on natives from your little group : Thanks !

  5. Was on a garden tour (of a Master Gardener's garden) and she had lots of the Lyre-leaf sage. It was just about done blooming--though there were a few stalks left. Nice plant.

  6. Aw, it's a cute little thing Gail! The Western daisy is sweet too.

    Our lawn is all grass. Although it's lush, green, soft, and pretty, (the Lawn Man has even figured out how to grow the stuff in pretty deep shade,) more and more I find myself missing naturalized lawns, especially after attending a wild foods/medicinal plants seminar last weekend.

    It's amazing the variety of plants that grow in a naturalized lawn, and I'll never see lawns the same again. After attending the seminar, I'll forever appreciate naturalized lawns more than I ever did, and will be looking under my feet to identify what's growing under them anytime I'm walking through one in the future.

  7. p.s. I did my first Wildflower Wednesday post this morning! Thanks for starting this wonderful event.

  8. Thanks for the information, I did not know anything about the Sage beyond its name. I can testify that Ajuga is not invasive in my garden, in fact it disappeared.

  9. Gail, I once grew Salvia lyrata 'Purple Volcano' but it died out, I think I prefer the wild version. I do love wild plants and this reminds me of our wild flower Cuckoo flower (Cardamine pratensis), a wild flower that sometimes appears in my garden. Well it has a similar colouring but not flower shape.

    Best wishes Sylvia

  10. I always enjoy coming here on Wildflower Wednesdays, Gail--I always learn something new. This is a flower I've never seen before, but it's so lovely! How lucky you are to have it spreading so happily in your garden/lawnette. One of these days I will participate...there seems to be a dearth of wildflowers here, just weeds:)

  11. We have the burgundy one and I think it should be blooming any day now. Ironically I was thinking about writing on it too! Ours hasn't spread much at all even though I would like it to. I do need to move it though - it's getting a little crowded where it is!

  12. oh what a lovely meme - I'm here from reading Frances post. I've just been out taking pictures of the wild flowers along the lade but not sure if I can enter those as its not really part of my garden but closeby. Gail will you let me know so that I can plan posts for the future. Many thanks Rosie

  13. Hi Gail, what an interesting perspective about salvias. Just goes to show, as much as I appreciate our natives, I know very little about them. Can't wait until I get the chance to bring that up in a conversation (like I knew it all along:)

  14. Rosie, Please do show us those wildflowers...doesn't matter where you found them...It's wildflower love time!


  15. Dave, Go ahead and write about it...I love your garden, your take on flowers and propagation. gail

  16. A beautiful wildflower to be sure. I think it grows in my wooded areas. I've seen it here and there.~~Dee

  17. That's a beautiful plant. I like the foliage especially. The flowers look similar to Basil.

  18. Whoops, I must remember to leave this alone :( Lovely post, Gail. Thank goodness for Lady Bird's love for preservation of wildflowers ... have always enjoyed her site.

  19. Gail, that is lovely, and yes, it is the coolest thing ever.

    I wish that we could grow them here, but the climate is probably too wet. But maybe upcountry, definitely drier there.

    Great shots, as always.


  20. I'm sure I've never met a Salvia I didn't like. I hadn't seen the lyre leaf sage before, it's lovely. Definitely not a mere lawn weed.

  21. I did a recent post on the Salvia lyrata in my yard but ours here in Florida all have blue flowers! Interesting regional color variation.

  22. These salvias are plentiful here as you know, Gail. The native green ones have crossed with the purple leaf purchased ones and now there are all sorts of lovely offspring. I am selecting for the purple leaf blue flowers. Thanks for showcasing this seldom seen Salvia. :-)

  23. Hi Gail.....I love the fact you let the wildflowers enjoy your garden. They are just so pretty....I love the delicate white bloom and the thought of a bee being covered in pollen is delightful.
    I have lots of native wildflowers in my garden....a few of them are running amock......let it be.

  24. I'm not familiar with Salvia lyrata, or maybe I am as something I've weeded out. It's such a pretty thing.

  25. Love salivia. Never thought about the lower lip providing an landing platform...now I'll probably never forget it. Know the hummers like them also.

  26. I LOVE my salvia lyrata... but mine isn't close to blooming yet! I have two different kinds of purple ('Purple Knockout' and... maybe 'Purple Volcano' or something?) and I let them seed around in my front yard wherever they want. They seed, but they're not any "worse" than the snapdragons, etc.

    With the dark purple foliage on mine, they may be an even better substitute for ajuga than you first realized, Gail. Mine don't flower quite as prettily as yours do, though!

  27. Hi Gail in between a split shift at work I have managed to put my first wildflower wednesday post together. Not sure how to link into it but if you click on my username it should bring you to it. Many thanks for the opportunity to share.

    PS its late here in the UK for me - I won't get to check others posts out until tommorrow. Nite nite everyone. :) Rosie

  28. I am glad you told again that it was the fourth Wednesday of the month. I thought you tried to do it every wednesday. I guess I don't read directions very well. I will try to get my post up later. I think this rascal grows here. I am not sure. Those little daisies aren't in my garden. They are cute though.

  29. Gail, what a lovely little salvia to feature today. I do love that mental picture of little bees coming in for a landing for their little pollen power shower. ;-)
    Salvia lyrata is also called Cancerweed. It was once thought to be a topical cancer cure (can you say Snake Oil?). The leaves were also used by native Americans as a salve for sores or brewed into a tea. Very useful little salvia!

  30. Jenny, Snake Oil! LOL! I read that, too and thought how interesting, it's still used in teas and salves! I read that it can be used in a salad, too.


  31. I grow lyre-leaf sage too, Gail. It's a proven performer in my shade garden, though it goes dormant in summer so wouldn't make a good lawn substitute here.

  32. What a pretty one! It's interesting what native wildflowers so many people end up treating as weeds. Very interesting to learn about the flowers shape and how the bees gather pollen so easily in them.
    I'm going to try to join in next week. Hopefully I can find something in bloom to share.

  33. I love those 'pouting' lips causing pollination. Remind me about Wildflower Wednesday. I will try to remember.

  34. Very cool! I hadn't seen this flower before.

  35. Gail, I have both the species and a hybrid variety of Salvia lyrata. I love those pale blue flowers on the species. I've got one patch of lawn I'm definitely planning to seed with wildflowers for next year ... thanks for reminding me to include this one!

  36. The note about bees getting doused in pollen IS the coolest! My crabapples are blooming now so I'm waiting for a warm afternoon when the giant black bumblebees come to feast. So fun to watch!

  37. Hey I'm new to Wildflower Wednesday, and already love it! I had S. lyrata last year from seed and was so happy with it. I hope it comes back--keeping a lookout.

  38. Hi Gail, Nice photos! I've got the purple leaved S. lyrata in my garden. And there is a ubiquitous roadside Oxeye daisy that is always charming.

  39. Love the concept of 'lawn substitute' rather than weed. I will use that in future!

    Maybe see you at Malvern next week?

  40. Meadows are way better than lawns. My weedy lawn doesn't have anything quite as stunning, but I keep it mowed and it looks green without any watering ever.

  41. Hi, Gail;
    I need to join in the wildflower fun. This is a great idea. And, I love your idea of a lawn substitute. Must get on this bandwagon. Like I'd ever pass up an opportunity to avoid mowing... :)

  42. Gail, when we first moved to our house the backyard had tons of that growing in the lawn. I really loved the look but then discovered some considered it a weed. Most of them disappeared as a result of our backyard makeover but we still have a few. They look really pretty along the roadsides here and seem to like wetter places. The kind in my yard and growing wild has more burgundy on the rosette than yours. They really are a nice little plant, aren't they?

  43. Hi Gail,

    Salvias are just some of my favorite plants. I do love seeing the different species that grow in different areas. Just beautiful!

  44. Noelle, I feel the same about them. Penstemons are another plant group that has so much variety ...gail

  45. I'm fan of Lyreleaf Sage too. It grows in the floodway fields on our farm. I need to try to transplant some of it into the garden.

    Exquisite pictures of the sage; I love your Western Daisy too.


"Insects are the little things that run the world." Dr. E O Wilson