Brown Sage

Brown Sage

Salvia africana-lutea

Scientific name

Salvia africana-lutea (beach salvia, dune salvia, golden salvia, bruin- of sandsalie, geelblomsalie) is a shrubby evergreen perennial native to coastal sand dunes and hills on the coast of the Cape Province in South Africa. It has numerous woody stems growing to more than 1 m in height and width, with sparse grey-green leaves. The flowers start out as a bright yellow, turning into a rusty color, with the dark rusty-colored calyx persisting long after fruiting begins.

Occurs in alkaline or neutral sand.

Larval host for blue and bronze butterflies.

"Salvia's method of pollination is quite crafty: hidden in the hood of the flower is a clever lever mechanism of the stamens; when an insect crawls in at the mouth of the flower, looking for nectar in the flower base, its head pushes against a sterile part of the stamen, which pushes the anther downwards and rubs some of the pollen off onto the insect's back. When the stigma is mature, it bends down and blocks the way of the insect visiting the flower. If some pollen of another flower is already on the insect's back, it rubs off against the stigma and results in cross-pollination. However, if you take a closer look at the flowers of Salvia africana-lutea you will see that they are too big for a bee, so that when a bee feeds on the nectar the stamens do not touch its back. This is because this sage has shifted its pollinator from bees to nectar-feeding birds, and these flowers are now designed to touch the visiting bird on its head."

Propagation instructions

By seed

Brown salvia is easily propagated by stem cuttings, or seed sown in spring. Seedlings will flower from a year to 18 months after sowing.

References and further reading

PlantZAfrica profile »

Wikipedia page »

Image credit: Paul Hoekman
We currently have no seeds of this species in our seedbanks. Do you have any seeds or do you know where we can get some? Get in touch!

This table below shows how many plants we are trying to obtain for this species.

Site Area Quantity
Site #11 Delft 3
Site #32 City Centre 0
Site #34 Rosebank 0
Site #54 Langa 5
Site #58 Rosebank 10
Site #59 Rosebank 20
Site #96 Bonteheuwel 15
Site #102 Newlands 15
Site #103 Mowbray 15
Site #95 Bonteheuwel 15
Site #104 Athlone 15
Site #105 Rosebank 15
Site #107 Mowbray 0
Site #127 Rosebank 20
4 other sites 50
Total 148

Important characteristics

Conservation status: Least Concern

This species was selected because it has various important characteristics.

It provides medicinal value

It is a pioneer species suitable for establishing the soil in bare areas



Pioneer species

Attracts butterflies

Suitable for clay soil

Suitable for sandy soil

It provides food for:


Southern double-collared sunbird

Salvia africana-lutea is indigenous to: Cape Flats Dune Strandveld Cape Flats Sand Fynbos Cape Flats Dune Strandveld

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