Salvia, Diviner's Sage, Magic Mint, others (see text)
Salvia divinorum, also known as Diviner's Sage, Magic Mint, María Pastora, Sally D, Sage of the Seers, or simply Salvia (although the genus name is shared among many plants), is a powerful psychoactive plant, a member of the sage genus and the Lamiaceae (mint) family. It has long been used as an entheogen by the indigenous Mazatec shamans for healing during spirit journeys. The plant is found in isolated, shaded and moist plots in Oaxaca, Mexico. It is thought to be a cultigen.
The following are the most important points to remember when growing Salvia:
- Bright, plentiful, but indirect sun (or use artificial light)
- Well draining soil - don't let it stay soaking wet, just moist. (Use good soil)
- Nice, but not critical are humidity (you can mist them), slightly acidic soil, hotter temperatures
Salvia is usually grown in pots, indoors. In very warm climates, where nights do not get too cold, they can grow outdoors, but may be more susceptible to garden pests. Bigger pots (1 foot / 30cm) are better in giving the plants some space to grow and be healthy. Plants can reach up to 8 feet (2 meters) or more, but you can keep them trimmed back to any size that's convenient for you. Bigger plants will need a pole to help support their weight. When potting a plant, place it deeper in the soil, with a little of the stem buried. This part of the stem will form additional roots and strengthen the plant.
Use a good potting soil mix, with plenty of vermiculite. The plants will not tolerate wet feet, and the vermiculite helps soak up excess water, then release it. If you like, use sterile soil (microwave 8 minutes) to eliminate bugs from the soil. Slightly acid soil is preferred, but neutral ph should work fine as well. Make sure the pot has holes in the bottom and drains water well. Watering once a week in the summer is often enough. If leaves start to droop, it's time to water.
Some regular plant food will be appreciated by the plant. Slow release fertilizer is often the easiest, you just sprinkle some on the soil. Don't over-fertilize.
Plants like bright, filtered sunlight, and do well with artificial light as well (fluorescent, energy saver bulbs work great). Full spectrum, incandescent or other "warm, soft" lights are not so good.
Salvia divinorum propagates naturally and easily by rooting from cuttings. They will root in plain tap water (without the need for rooting hormone powders or the like) normally within two or three weeks. Rooting hormone powders can be used if placing cuttings in soil. Remember, cuttings are very sensitive to root rot, use extremely well draining soil, vermiculite, etc. Keeping the cuttings covered with an upside down opaque bin or something similar helps retain humidity and improves chances of survival.
You can take cuttings whenever you like. The growth rate is dependent on the temperature and the amount of light, for example, a cutting taken in mid-winter should still work but could take 4-6 weeks to root if you live far from the equator, rather than 2-3 weeks. Artificial light can be used and will help if the nights are long.
Use a clean sharp knife to take a cutting ideally about 20-30cm in length (but anything above 10cm will probably be okay). You'll notice that the stem has distinct sections. Since the remaining stem on the live plant will die back to the next section, it's a good idea to take cuttings near to a join between two sections (to minimise such wastage), that is, from about 2cm (3/4 inch) above an intersection.
It's best to take cuttings of a reasonable size. Good thick stems means more mass and reserve for the plant to draw upon while setting it's roots, which improves the chances quickly establishing vigorous plants. However, younger shoots can be used too, and if you are trimming the plant or 'pinching' it, you may as well have a go with whatever cuttings you take.
The cuttings will not be able to sustain too many leaves so remove those nearer the bottom of the stem, leaving no more than half a dozen or so of the much smaller top leaves. When transplanting cuttings, or moving them outdoors for the first time, it may also help to cut half of some of the bigger/lower leaves off, to reduce the shock of the transplant/movement.
Rooting the cuttings in separate containers will isolate good from bad (in case one fails and starts to rot) and improve the over all chances of success.
Simply leave them in their containers (glass jars work fine) near a window but avoiding direct sunlight. Make sure that there is enough water in the container, about 6-10cm depth of water for an average length cutting.
Cuttings are ready for potting when you have a good few roots 1 to 1.5 inches (2 - 4 cm) long. After potting, it can help to cover the plant with an opaque plastic tub of some sort for a week or two to maintain higher humidity.
Unlike other species of salvia, Salvia divinorum produces few seeds, and those seldom germinate. For an unknown reason, pollen fertility is reduced. There is no active pollen tube inhibition within the style, but some event or process after the pollen tube reaches the ovary is aberrant. Partial sterility is often suggestive of a hybrid origin, although no species have been recognized as possible parent species. The ability to grow indistinguishable plants from seeds produced by self pollination also weakens the hybrid theory of origin, instead implying inbreeding depression, or an undiscovered incompatibility mechanism. The plant is mainly propagated by cuttings or layering. Although isolated strands of S. divinorum exist, these are thought to have been purposely created and tended by the Mazatec people. For this reason, it is considered a true cultigen, not occurring in a wild state.
All known specimens are clones from a small number of collected plants. Two strains are in major circulation: the Wasson/Hofmann strain, obtained upon request from a Mazatec shaman in Oaxaca in 1962, and the Blosser ('Palatable') strain, obtained around 1980. The Palatable strain is said to have a more acceptable taste than the Wasson/Hofmann strain, although most reports suggest that there is little difference.
Additional commercial strains are in circulation, but all seem to be similar in potency, effect, and growth. The numerous different names have more to do with marketing than with the formal identification of botanically distinct strains.
Pests and diseases
Whiteflys are a common pest. Susceptible to other pests associated with herbaceous plants as well.
Most commonly grown for the psychoactive properties of the plant. Otherwise grown as a decorative foliage plant - flowers infrequently and flowers are not prominent, nor scented.
Salvia divinorum was first found in Oaxaca Mexico where it is used by the Mazatec Indians to facilitate visions and to treat diarrhea, headaches, and a magical disease called panzon de borrego, otherwise known as swollen belly. It was first recorded in print by Jean Basset Johnson in 1939 as he was studying Mazatec shamanism. He later documented its usage and reported its effects through personal testimonials. It was not until the 1990s that the psychoactive mechanism was identified by a team led by Daniel Siebert.
The history of the plant is not known, but there are three possibilities as to its origin. Since it is found in one small area and only one indigenous group uses it, it is either native to this area, is a cultigen of the Mazatecs, or is a cultigen of another indigenous group. Wasson theorized that this plant was the mythological pipilzintzintli, the "Noble Prince" of the Aztec codices. However, this theory is not without dispute. The Aztecs were extremely knowledgeable in plant identification, and their records report that pipilzintzintli has both male and female varieties. Salvia divinorum, however, is monoecious, meaning it produces flowers of both sexes on a single plant. Skeptics of this theory report that the Aztecs would have known the difference between male and female flowers. Wasson gains validity, however, as a number of Aztec historical accounts classify plants as male or female in a metaphorical, rather than botanically anatomical manner.
- Wikipedia article
- The Salvia divinorum Research and Information Center - Daniel Siebert's site
- Erowid Salvia divinorum Vault - Salvia section from Erowid's vast reference site
- Lycaeum page on Salvia divinorum - another large reference site for psychoactives
- Salvia divinorum Scotland - information and advice on cultivation etc
- Salvia.net - information about growing, history and some experience reports
- Sacred Weeds: Salvia divinorum - feature length video documentary
- Daniel Siebert interview - audio podcast
http://www.salviasociety.org -A US-based website that sells extract and other Salvia preparations to many countries. Also has lots of information about Salvia usage.
- Grow your own Salvia divinorum seeds - an illustrated step by step guide to hand pollination and seeds
- How to grow Salvia Divinorum
- Entheogen.com's Salvia forum
- SalviaD - active Yahoo group with over 20,000 posts since 1999
- SalviaD Alliance - another active Yahoo group
- Drugs forum - Salvia divinorum
- Salvia Source
- Psychonaut.com's Salvia forum
- International section of the 'Salvia Community'
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