With roughly 900 species to its name, the salvia flower is considered the largest genus within the lamiaceae – or mint – family. Given the vast family heritage, these flowers grow in abundance throughout the world – though, the majority of species can be seen blossoming around Southwestern and central regions of Asia. The many varieties of salvia plants come in annual, perennial herbs and biennial types. These blossoms generally sprout from a raceme, with a bell-shaped or tubular calyx. The petals take on a distinctive claw shape that is divided in two – the upper portion being either toothy in appearance or solid. They may be seen in several colors ranging from blue to purple, white to red, and – less frequently – yellow.
The salvia flower has something of a sordid history, as some varieties of this plant have highly hallucinogenic properties. In Oaxaca, Mexico this plant has sometimes been used as both a curative and within divination practices. These plants are said to calm the nerves of those who are ill, and bring about visions during religious practices. Although using the salvia flower in this manner is considered relatively new, studies on its effects began in the late 1930s. Despite its cultural significance, though, the use of salvia as a hallucinogen is quickly becoming illegal in many states and countries. Other varieties of the salvia flower are thought to be perfectly safe, and are used for a number of other reasons. Most of these plants are grown simply as ornamental flowers, but they may also be used to create smudge sticks for traditional events; to be cooked or eaten fresh, as some types are a good source of protein; or even as proper folk remedies for things such as sore throats and coughs, eczema, dandruff and even bad breath.
Due to its highly curative nature, salvia is thought to be one of the best symbols associated with healing. It is also said to represent a long life, wisdom, esteem and good health. As a gift, this flower is often given to those coming back from illness or some emotional distress. They may also be given to tell the recipient that you wish them well being and a happy, hardy life. Although these plants can make lovely embellishments to large arrangements, they are best presented as a potted plant that can grow and be enjoyed for years to come.