Salvia tiliifolia, commonly known as the lindenleaf sage or the tarahumara chia, is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae). It is a flowering annual that is native to Central America (Wood, 2007). Salvia is the largest genus in the Lamiaceae family, and is found worldwide, except in Australia (Wood, 2007).
It is named tiliifolia because its leaves are similar in appearance to the leaves found in the Tilia or linden tree, which are ovate-shaped and crenate. It grows to be 40-70 cm tall and produces two-lipped blue flowers and produced black seeds (Plants for a Future, n.d.).
Lindenleaf sage is invasive and therefore can now be found from Texas to Peru in the Americas, and in parts of China and Africa (USDA, n.d.). In China and Ethiopia, it has taken the place of many native herbs. It was first introduced in Ethiopia when its seeds were brought in to the country, along with grains and cereals that were brought in from humanitarian aid groups (Demissew, 1996). Unfortunately, the sage is ignored by many grazers due to its unappealing smell (Hu et al, 2013).
The black seeds produced from this plant can be used in a variety of foods and drinks. Commonly known as the “chia seed”, these seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and can be ground up and used as a baking ingredient or turned into a gelatinous mixture when soaked in water that is then used to make drinks (Plants for a Future, n.d.). In addition, herbal extracts from S. tiliifolia leaves have high levels of flavonoids, which are secondary metabolites that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (Adewusi, 2011).
Adewusi, E. A. et al. (2011) Antioxidant and acetylcholinesterase inhibitory activity of African medicinal plants. South African Journal of Botany 77(3), 638-644.
Demissew, S. (1996). A central American weedy salvia in Ethiopia. Lamiales Newsletter 4. Retrieved from http://www.kew.org/data/vitex/lamiales96.pdf
Hu, G. X. et al. (2013). Invasive status and risk assessment of Salvia tiliifolia, a recently recognized introduction to China. Weed Research 53(5), 355-361.
Plant for a Future. (n.d.). Salvia tiliifolia. Retrieved from http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Salvia+tiliifolia
USDA. (n.d.) Salvia tiliifolia Vahl. Retrieved from
Wood, J. R. I. (2007). The salvias (Lamiaceae) of Bolivia. Kew Bulletin 62(2), 177-221.