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Salvia columbariae is an annual plant that is commonly called chia, golden chia, and desert chia because its seeds are used in the same manner as Salvia hispanica (chia). It grows in California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Sonora, and Baja California and was an important food for Native Americans. Some native words include pashí from Tongva and 'it'epeš from Ventureño.
S. columbariae grows 10 to 50 cm (3.9 to 20 in) tall. Its stem hairs are generally short and sparse in distribution. It has oblong-ovate basal leaves that are 2 to 10 cm (0.79 to 3.9 in) long. The leaves are pinnately dissected and the lobes are irregularly rounded. The inflorescence is more or less scapose, meaning it has a long peduncle that comes from the ground level that has bracts. The bracts are round and awn-tipped. There are usually 1-2 cluster of flowers within the inflorescence. The calyx is 8 to 10 mm (0.31 to 0.39 in) long and the upper lip is unlobed but has 2 (sometimes 3) awns. The lower lip is about twice the size of the upper lip. The flower color can be pale blue to blue and purple tipped. The stamens of the plant are slightly exserted. The fruit of S. columbariae is a nutlet that is tan to grey in color and 1.5 to 2 mm (0.059 to 0.079 in) long.
Distribution and habitat
S. columbariae can be found in dry undisturbed sites in chaparral, and coastal sage scrub. It generally grows at elevations lower than 1,200 m (3,900 ft). In cultivation, it prefers good drainage, sun, and dry weather.
- Salvia columbariae var. columbariae Benth. - California sage, chia
- Salvia columbariae var. ziegleri Munz - Ziegler's sage
- USDA Natural resources Conservation Service. [web application]. 2006. Available: . (Accessed: May 25, 2006)
- Hickman, James C. The Jepson Manual Higher Plants of California. University of California Press, Berkeley Los Angeles London. (1993).
- ITIS Report http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=32707
- UC Jepson Manual treatment for Salvia columbariae
- Calflora: Salvia columbariae
- USDA Plant Profiles: Salvia columbariae
- Salvia columbariae - CalPhoto Gallery