Salvia pinguifolia (Fernald) Woot. & Standl.

A blue-flowered shrub found in southwestern New Mexico and southeastern Arizona, presumably extending into Mexico as well. Salvia vinacea is often listed as a synonym of Salvia pinguifolia, but they differ in several respects. Salvia pinguifolia has smaller flowers, blue to lavender (rather than purple/magenta) corollas; green calices, often with slightly bluish lobes (rather than mostly purple); leaves with dense, greyish pubescence abaxially and greyish pubescence along the veins adaxially (rather than leaves sparsely pubescent and green adaxially and abaxially). It is not clear from my relatively brief examination of herbarium specimens that the two species are truly distinct in these characters, rather than representing extremes of a continuum, but they are at least distinct enough that it seems a shame to simply dump them both in a single highly variable species. I suspect quantitative morphology and/or genetic analyses would be necessary to satisfactorily resolve the issue. In New Mexico, Salvia pinguifolia is found in Catron and Grant Counties, while Salvia vinacea is found to the south and east, in Luna, Doña Ana, and Otero Counties.

Inflorescences on the lower part of the trail up Sheridan Gulch, west side of the Mogollon Mountains, Catron County, New Mexico, 9 Sep 2011.

Closer view of flowers on the trail up Sheridan Gulch, 9 Sep 2011.

Adaxial view of an upper cauline leaf, showing greyish pubescence along the veins, Sheridan Gulch, 9 Sep 2011.

Plant habit (plants here were somewhat wilted) along the trail up Sheridan Gulch, 9 Sep 2011.

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