Salvia dorrii

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Tobacco sage
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Plant Info
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Kingdom: Plantae
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Division: Magnoliophyta
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Class: Magnoliopsida
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Order: Lamiales
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Family: Lamiaceae
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Genus: Salvia
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Species: S. dorrii
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Binomial name
Salvia dorrii
(Kellogg) Abrams
Trinomial name
Type Species

Salvia dorrii,[1][2] also known as Tobacco sage or Dorrs sage or Purple or Mint sage is a plant in the genus Salvia, commonly called the sages, in the family Lamiaceae. Plants grow as an evergreen shrub with extremely woody bases, in dry, well draining soils. It is native to mountain areas in the western United States and northwestern Arizona, found mainly in the Great Basin Range habitat and southward to the Mojave desert. Some large native populations of this species exist in the Aquarius Plateau region of Southern Utah.



Tobacco sage is a woody shrub growing less than 1 m tall. The leaves are narrow lanceolate and tapered at the base and rounded at the tip. The margin is smooth and rounded. The leaves are generally basal, and about 1-3 cm long. The grey green colored leaves have an intensely strong but pleasant, mildly intoxicating minty aroma, with the scent released when the foliage is handled or crushed. The inflorescence is made up of spike-like clusters of numerous purple flowers. The flowers are bilateral. The flowers remain on the plants after being pollinated, with the desiccated flowers remaining for some weeks or months after flowering. The inflorescences have a strong resemblance to miniature purple-colored Pussy willows.[3]

Individual tobacco sage plants form large, heavily branched hemispherical mounds 3-4 feet across in sand drainage flats along hole in the rock road southeast of Escalante, Utah. [4]

Ecology and reproduction

Tobacco sage is an uncommon and locally rare plant with isolated populations throughout its range and requires well drained and dry soil, full sun, little water, and high summer temperatures. In Utah, it only occurs in restricted and isolated populations in steep canyons and arroyos areas near Moab, Utah and Escalante, Utah. It is considerably more common in Southern Utah and Northern Arizona. They occur on dry slopes in areas with sandy soils in drainage washes and and banks of arroyos throughout the Mountain West which experience intermitment and very infrequent water throughout the growing season.[5]

The Tobacco sage typically flowers between May and August.


Template:Refimprovesect Native Americans and in particular the Ute Tribe from Utah and Colorado had several uses for this plant: leaves were smoked as a tobacco substitute for their mildly hallucinogenic effects (Tobacco sage does not appear to be orally active [6]); also used in sweatlodge ceremonies by throwing small amounts of the leaves on the burning rocks used to make steam; a tea mixed with Elk root and Salvia dorii is mixed together and given to reduce the size of tumors and lessen the mechanism of angiogenesis with tumor cells.[citation needed]

It can be made into a tea, which decreases sweating, salivation, and mucous secretions in the sinuses, throat, and lungs. Cold tea can be a good stomach tonic, while a lukewarm tea is good for treating sore throats. The leaves can also be used as a uterine hemostatic tea for heavy menstruation; however, since it can also decrease lactation, nursing mothers are advised not to use it.[citation needed]

Tobacco sage is considered sacred by many Native Americans since it is used to make smudge sticks, a type of incense, and used in the sweat lodge and ceremonies of several tribes, most notably, the Diné, Ute, and Shoshone.[citation needed]


  3. Salvia Dorii
  4. Hole in the Rock Road
  5. Salvia Dorii Habitat
  6. Psychedelic Chemistry, Michael Valentine Smith. ISBN 0915179105
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