Thursday, February 1, 2024

Lyreleaf sage

Lyreleaf sage (Salvia lyrata) is in the mint family.

Lyreleaf sage (Salvia lyrata) makes quite a show in several areas of our front yard in the spring. We delay the first mowing of our lawn in the spring for this wildflower show. 

Over the years, we have replaced more than half of the lawn that came with the house and what is left is a freedom lawn that is:
- free from landscape-wide pesticide applications,
- free from synthetic fertilizer applications,
- free from over irrigation, and
- free from over mowing. It's allowed to go dormant during the winter months. 

I have moved some of these lovely wildflower volunteers from the lawn into wildflower gardens. Where this wonderful sage grows quite a bit larger and more robust. 

I saw that someone described this plant as weedy, but I don't see it that way at all, even though it is prolific. In the lawn, it's easy to mow, in the wildflower beds, it makes quite a show, and in the vegetable beds, it's easy to pull if necessary and if not, it attracts pollinators.


In March, the lyreleaf sage makes quite a show
in our freedom lawn

Lyreleaf sage is native to all but the southernmost counties in Florida and to most of eastern North America. It's perennial, 1-2 ft. tall with a rosette of deeply lobed leaves at the base which are purple-tinged in the winter. It's a member of the mint family and has the typical square stem and 2-lipped blossom of the mints, which are pale-blue to violet.

This plant is edible and its leaves taste a bit minty. Maybe I'll add it to our salads on a more regular basis, especially those plants that volunteer in our vegetable gardens.

The extended lower lip of this and other salvias provides an excellent landing platform for bees and butterflies. When a pollinator lands, the two stamens are tipped, and the insect is doused with pollen. Hummingbirds also use this plant in the spring at the beginning of their occupation of Florida.

Use this hardy drought-tolerant sage in a meadow, naturalized area, pollinator garden, or woodland. Its dense form, short height, and tolerance for mowing make it an excellent lawn alternative. Because it tolerates occasional flooding and wet soil, it also makes a good addition to a rain garden. Small birds such as American Goldfinches will eat the seeds.


This is an older plant that has survived in the lawn.
Just look at all those flowering stalks.


Someone thought that the Lyreleaf sage's basal leaves
looked like a lyre.
A lyre for reference...

So, I hope you allow this prolific wildflower to beautify your yard, but if it has not volunteered, here is a link to its plant profile on the FNPS website, which includes a link to native nurseries that have it in stock. 

Green Gardening Matters,
Ginny Stibolt

 

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