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A New Species Of Salvia From Mexico
by Epling C, Játiva-M CD
(HTML by Arachnophilia & Erowid)
Dec 28, 1962 - Vol.20, No. 3
Botanical Museum Leaflets, Harvard University
In the course of his studies of narcotic plants in southern Mexico, Mr. R. Gordon Wasson became interested in a member of the Labiatae which is employed by the Mazatec Indians of Oaxaca as a psychotropic drug.

An examination of material from the Mazatec country indicates that the plant in question is an undescribed species of Salvia:

Salvia divinorum (Dusenostachys) Epling & Játiva sp. nov.

Herba perennis altitudine 1 m. et ultra, caulibus pilis plus minusve articulatis pubescentibus; foliorum lamininis plus minusve ovatis, 12-15 cm. longis, in apice acuminatis, in basi plus minusve rotundatis et ad petiolos 2-3cm. longis attenuatis, ad margines crenato-serratis et in sinibus hirtellis, paginis ambabus glabratis nisi inferiore ad venas hirtella; floribus in verticillastris sat distantibus ut videtur in paniculis amplis, ramis 30-40 cm. longis cyaneopuberulis; pedicellis gracilibus 8-9 mm. longis; calycum cyaneorum glabrorum tubo in maturitate 15 mm. longorum labia superiore 1.5mm. longa, imprimis 3-venia; corollarum cyanearum sigmoidearum tubo 22mm. longo, intus nudo, labia superiore 6mm. alta, inferiore ut videtur breviore et incurva; staminibus ad fauces positis, inclusis, gubernaculo integro; stylo hirtello, ramo postico paulo longiore obtuso plano, antico ut videtur carinato.

México, Estado de Oaxaca, San Jóse Tenango, in the Sierra Mazateca; in ravines with black soil marginal to the wet forest, September 8, 1962, A. Hofmann & R.G. Wasson, s.n. (Type in Herb. Univ. Cal., Los Angeles; Duplicate Type in Econ. Herb. Oakes Ames).

Salvia divinorum is allied to S. cyanea Lamb. ex. Benth., which is found in central Mexico. The former differs from the latter principally in respect to leaf shape (the attenuation of the blade) and the flattened upper style branch. The bracts of Salvia divinorum appear to be tardily deciduous. The species is doubtless striking in its habitat and might possibly be valuable if introduced into horticulture.

The specific name, which means "of the seers," refers to the curious use to which the plant is put by the Mazatec Indians and which Mr. Wasson describes in the following pages. [The R. Gordon Wasson article "A New Psychotropic Drug from the Mint Family," follows this description in the Botanical Leaflet Series – Arachnid..]

[Gordon Wasson and Albert Hofmann, in addition to herbarium specimens of Salvia divinorum, took a living plant to Dr. Epling in 1962. Epling was an expert on New World Salvia species, and had written a monograph of the Salvia subgenus Calosphace. He assigned ska María Pastora to the section Dusenostachys of the Calosphace. It is thanks to Epling's interest in growing the plant that the so-called Wasson clone was propagated at various California University Botanical Gardens and eventually escaped into the countryside, becoming somewhat invasive throughout the United States over the past decades – Arachnid.]