Salvia hispanica L.

Salvia hispanica L.




Kiosmina hispanica (L.) Rafin., Salvia chia Sesse & Moc., Salvia schie­deana Stapf.

Vernacular Names




Cuwing, salasi huma (Sundanese).



Geographical Distributions

Salvia his­panica originates from southern Mexico and northern Guatemala. Its earliest cultivation and utilization is by the Aztecs in Central America. It was introduced and naturalised in the West In­dies, Spain and West Java. It is grown commer­cially in central Mexico, Guatemala, United States (southern California, south-eastern Texas), north-western Argentina and occasionally in West Java, Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore.


Salvia his­panica is an erect or ascending herb that can grow up to 0.5-1 m tall or more. The stem and branches are quadrangular, villous and hispid.

The leaves are arranged opposite and thin. The petiole is 1-6 cm long and slender. The blade is oblong-lance-shaped to ovate, measuring 3-8 cm x 1-4.5 cm, obtuse and abrupt­ly attenuates at base, with entire margin at the base and serrate or serrulate elsewhere, and acute or acuminate at apex. Both surfaces are pubescent.

The inflorescence consists of verticillasters of 6-10 zygomorphic flowers. These are congested in a dense, terminal false spike measuring 5-25 cm x 1.5 cm. The internodes are 2-5 mm long. The bracts are ovate-acuminate, measure 6-8 mm long and persistent. The sepal is tubular but 2-lipped, slightly inflated below, measures 6-8 mm long, 8-11 mm in fruit and densely hairy. The upper lip is strongly keeled and sharply pointed while the lower lip is 2-toothed. The petal is tubular, 2-lipped, blue or pur­plish-blue. The lips are shortly exposed with tube 4.5-5.5 mm long. The upper lip is 3 mm long and rounded and sericeous outside while the lower lip is 3-lobed. It is 3.5-5 mm long. There are 4 sta­mens which are didynamous, hardly exposed, and with lower pair fertile and lower connective branch swollen. The disk is prominent. The ovary is superior with 2-branched style. The up­per branch is long and slender. It is 2.5 mm long and point­ed while the lower one is short and club-shaped. The main style articulates above the base.

The fruit consists of 4 schizocarpous nutlets where each one is ellipsoid, 1.8 mm long and mottled with black and grey.

Ecology / Cultivation

In its natural area, Salvia hispanica grows in moist or dry thickets, in open, often dry rocky slopes, sometimes on sandbars along streams and often as a weed, at altitudes 1150-2500 m. In West Java, it can be found in open areas, road sides, fal­low or weedy agricultural land and low brushwoods at altitudes of 900-1700 m. In north-western Ar­gentina, it is grown at elevations of 300-1350 m, with maximum temperature of about 30°C and minimum temperature of 12.5°C. Rainfall in this region varies between 100-1000 mm per year. This is a species of the semi-arid areas.

Line Drawing / Photograph



  1. Plant Resources of South-East Asia No.14: Vegetable oils and fats.