Here's something you don't see too often. A plant that produces flowers that look like burnt sienna toucans. Recently, I took a little plant safari and came across this very unique creature. Strangely beautiful and a bit mysterious. May I present, Salvia africana-lutea also known as Beach Sage, Dune Sage, or Golden Sage. Salvia africana-lutea comes to us from the botanically rich realm of South Africa. This is not your typical salvia. It's something special. When I found this beauty in bloom it was dripping with nectar...lots of nectar... and the bees, butterflies and hummingbirds were gettin' bizzay! Such a beautiful sight to see!
Salvia africana-lutea is an evergreen shrub that can grow about 3 feet tall and wide. It's covered in rounded, aromatic grey-green foliage that when picked and steeped with hot water make an excellent tea for coughs and colds. In spring, cashew-like yellowish flower buds begin to form and bloom. As the flowers age, they mellow into a rich, warm, deep sienna color. It reminds me of butterscotch caramel. Flowering carries on through summer. As the flowers fade and fall, the trumpet-shaped calyx at their base remains on the stem providing a continued coolness factor. Salvia africana-lutea like full sun, well-draining, compost fed soil, regular water until established, and is hardy down to about 20 degrees fahrenheit/-6 degrees celsius. It's a tough customer that does well in coastal plantings, attracts nectar lovin' wildlife, repels deer, and is both drought and heat tolerant. I seriously have a strange love for this unusually striking salvia outlier. It's got that certain je ne sais quoi that's got me as curious as a cat and craving the cool. Viva La Strange!