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Salvia columbariae

Salvia columbariae Benth.

 

Chia

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderLamialesAromatic herbs and shrubs, including lavender, lilac, olive, jasmine, ash, teak, snapdragon, sesame, psyllium, garden sage, mint, basil, and rosemary
FamilyLamiaceaeMint family
GenusSalviaFrom the Latin salveo, “I am well,” referring to the medicinal properties of some members of this genus
SpeciescolumbariaeOne reference states that this plant reminded its namer, George Bentham, of Scabiosa columbaria, and possibly derives from Latin columbarius meaning “of or pertaining to doves or appearing dove-like.” It’s interesting that despite the fact that there are at least eight past or present taxa which use ‘columbaria’ as a species name, there is so little information about what it means

About plant names...

Chia is native to the southwestern United States and arid parts of Mexico. It is common in dry open disturbed soils, usually at elevations below 4000' (1.2 km), sometimes as high as 1.3 mi (2.1 km). It prefers coastal sage scrublands, chaparral, and creosote bush scrub.

Plants: Stems are four-sided, with sparse short hairs.

Leaves: Oblong to ovate, ¾-4" (2-10 cm) long, most of them arranged in a basal rosette. Each leaf is deeply divided into fernlike bipinnate portions, wrinkly, velvety, and gray-green in color.

Flowers: Flower stalks rise from the base and are 4-20" (10-50 cm) in height. Flowerheads are spiky purple balls with many small blue (rarely white) flowers, though only a few flowers are in bloom at any given time. Each flower has an upper lip with two or three awns and a white center, and a lower lip twice as large. Flowers appear from March to June.

Fruits: The purple spiky balls persist, becoming tan or gray nutlets, each ¹/₃₂-¹/₁₆" (1.5-2 mm) long.

Edibility: The Cahuilla, Kawaiisu, Mohave, Tohono O’odham, Chumash and Akimel O’odham ground the seeds and mixed them into water to make a thick beverage. The Cahuillas removed the alkali salts in the water, improving the flavor. They also dried the seeds to make cakes or mush. The Ohlones, Mohave, and Pomo make pinole, roasted ground maize, which is then mixed with a com­bination of cocoa, agave, cinnamon, chia seeds, vanilla, or other spices. The Diegueno added the seeds to wheat to improve flavor. The Mahuna, Paiute, and Akimel O’odham made it into a gel­atinous ma­ter­ial, then cooked it into porridge. The Luiseno, Tubatulabal, and Yavapai used it extensively as a food source. (From the Native American Ethnobotany Database.) See also this article, which describes further uses of this species as a staple food.

Medical: This plant has been used for several folk remedies, though these have not been studied closely.

Online References:

Salvia columbariae on www.americansouthwest.net

Salvia columbariae on naeb.brit.org

Salvia columbariae on Wikipedia

Salvia columbariae on calscape.org

Salvia columbariae at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Salvia columbariae on Wikipedia

Salvia columbariae at Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers and the Plants of the Sonoran Desert

Salvia columbariae on the Natural History of Orange County, California

Salvia columbariae (Chia)

4/30/2018 · Black Canyon Road, Mojave National Preserve, CA
≈ 6 × 8" (14 × 20 cm)

Salvia columbariae (Chia)

4/30/2018 · Black Canyon Road, Mojave National Preserve, CA
≈ 7 × 6" (17 × 16 cm)

Salvia columbariae description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 24 Jul 2019.

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Salvia columbariae (Chia)

4/30/2018 · Black Canyon Road, Mojave National Preserve, CA
≈ 5 × 8" (13 × 20 cm)

Salvia columbariae (Chia)

5/2/2018 · Joshua Tree National Park, CA
≈ 5 × 8" (13 × 20 cm)

Salvia columbariae (Chia)

5/2/2018 · Joshua Tree National Park, CA
≈ 5 × 8" (13 × 20 cm)

Salvia columbariae (Chia)

4/30/2018 · Black Canyon Road, Mojave National Preserve, CA
≈ 5 × 6" (13 × 15 cm)

Salvia columbariae (Chia)

4/30/2018 · Black Canyon Road, Mojave National Preserve, CA
≈ 8 × 6" (19 × 16 cm)

Range:

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