Botany Photo of the Day
In science, beauty. In beauty, science. Daily.

February 16, 2016: Botany Photo of the Day will return this spring with a new format similar to the new UBC Botanical Garden web site. In the meantime, please enjoy the restored content!

Salvia hierosolymitana

Salvia hierosolymitana

Frequent BPotD contributor Jim in San Francisco (aka J.G. in S.F.@Flickr) submitted today's photograph (original image via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool). Thank you, as always!

Eric La Fountaine wrote today's entry:

Salvia is the largest genus of the Lamiaceae or mint family with over 900 species. The name, given by Pliny the Elder, means to heal or save and refers to the medicinal qualities attributed to some species. Most have aromatic compounds and give off strong herbal fragances from the leaves. Salvia hierosolymitana or Jerusalem sage (hierosolymitana = sacred Jerusalem) lacks this quality. It is native to the eastern Mediterranean.

The plant forms a 60 cm (2 ft.) wide mound of basal leaves with tall branched inflorescences 30 cm (1 ft.) long held above. The wine-red flowers are borne in whorls loosely spaced along the stem. The leaves, stems and floral bracts are covered with small hairs. The stems and bracts are often strongly tinged red. A perennial species, Salvia hierosolymitana blooms for several weeks in early spring and is suitable for cultivation in warm climates.

Jerusalem sage is not used medicinally or as an herb like some other members of the genus—notably Salvia officinalis, culinary sage. It is used for cooking by Palestinian Arabs, as a wrapper similar to the way grape leaves are stuffed in the Mediteranean.


Salvias are one of very favourite species of plants. There was a time that I had nearly 80 cultivars in my garden here in Brisbane (Aust). Ive never seen this form before and doubt that it would ever grow in my humid conditions. Thank you again for sharing this.

Outstanding beauty! So why do plants have hairs?

The photography is absolutely breath taking! Thanks for giving links too.

Darn! Even in the plant world it appears that the male ("anther") is about to give lip service to the female ("stigma") --- we always serve our ("superiors") LOL! Thanks for starting my day off with a smile!
- morris

Great picture. Plant looks great in spite of the aphids.

The male anther that is bending down in the right picture happens to be an adaptation to the weight of a bee, getting nectar at the base of the stamen, a means of placing pollen on the bee, who in turn carries the pollen to another plant for cross pollination. If the plant self pollinates, that is okay too, but if not, the bee becomes a very essential part of pollination.

Stunning, breath-taking photo! Thank you! And Doby, thank you for your bee note on the anther. Today's photo and commentary epitomize what I love about this site: great beauty, and intelligent information about the flora we're admiring.

"Why do plants have hairs." I thought of writing about this, because of the hairiness of this plant. Plant hairs can serve various purposes. They can protect the plant from predation and they can insulate from cold or wind or sunburn.

Plant Hairs

The square stems always fascinate me!

Plant hairs are also to prevent the plant from dehydrating.

fine photo to be able to be so close to the

plant is a joy of modern life and here on the

net with all the comments and helpful links has fine pictures and close ups

thank you eric

What a picture! Incredible depth of field.

I gave up on Jerusalem Sage, or plants sold as Jerusalem Sage, after losing several to frost, though I'd have said we have slightly less frost than the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden which is on a chilly hill. Makes me wonder if the labelling was correct on the plants I bought.

Following the link to the FoodBridge site, and scrolling to the last picture in the discussion, the plant appears to me to be a Rumex (sorrel) rather than a wild lettuce, as it has smooth dark green slightly toothed and "crisped" (curly) edged leaves in the sorrel fashion, rather than the deeply cut, prickly-edged light bluish green leaves of a wild lettuce. This makes perfect culinary sense, as all the F'teeyah I've had has had the filling made quite tart with lemon juice; perhaps in imitation of a filling based on sorrel leaves!

The hairs in the photo appear to be tipped with sticky droplets, which have perhaps trapped some of the aphids in the picture.

Beautiful picture and thanks for the link

Equisetum, You are right that the last picture to my link isn't wild lettuce but it also wasn't sour like sorrel, so I am not sure what it was. F'teeyah gets its sour flavor from sumak and lemon juice (that's not the imitation) I have never heard of
it being made from sorrel, although this possible and would make sense.
I have other jerusalem sage pictures from the Carmel area and from the Jerusalem hills

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