Images by Gurcharan Singh & Gurcharan SIngh, (inserted by Bhagyashri Ranade)





Salvia viridis (syn: Salvia horminum), photographed from Delhi University Flower show in February. 

Salvia viridis from Kashmir : 14 posts by 4 authors. Attachments (3)
Salvia viridis from Kashmir, perhaps a recent introduction in Kashmir Gardens. Photographed from Hazuribagh Garden in Srinagar on June 16, 2010.

Nice pictures … But why the name ‘viridis’ (means ‘green’)?

This question also stuck me but I found … has already placed it well !!

The answer may lie in the fact that species for many years was known as S. horminum, a greek name for sage. Only recently it has been merged with S. viridis, originally described as distinct species by Linnaeus

Yes …, Wiki also provides the etymology: “…viridis, from the Greek, refers to the color green, with implications of youth and vigor…” so here the specific epithet refers the use of the plant.

Thanks for sharing, but the question still remains unanswered, why the name is viridis, which means green.

Ok so I found the answer, so I thought of sharing myself.
Linne describes this plant
Salvia viridis L. Sp. Pl. 1: 24 (1753).
But many or most of the names of Linne was inspired by previously occurring non-binomial names. This name was inspired from ‘Horminum
coma viridi’ from the reference Tournef. infl. (I am sorry, I couldn’t find this reference anywhere). But Horminum is the name and coma
viridi refers to the “green helmet” or the tuft of green calyx above flower or may be there is a tuft of green leaves below inflorescence.

Salvia viridis (all Salvias for that matter) is reported to have “healing properties” and also considered as “tonic” which helps keep you ‘healthy’ and “young” i.e. green, all the time!! This is what i infer from the Wiki link. So the specific epithet here denotes the use of the plant and not its colour or appearance. Am i right?

No, that’s your assumption … Give me one more example where the colour has been used for denoting any of life other than colour. Its
just because the green calyx. But yes, many may say that all Lamiaceae has green calyx, but that doesnt matter in Taxonomy. The reference
used by Linne names this plant as “Horminum coma viridi” which precisely leads to calyx colour, or in worst case these is a tuft of green leaves below the inflorescence.

You should be right, … Here is the Linnaeus’s original description:


7. Salvia foliis oblongis crenatis, corollarum, galea semi-orbiculata, calycibus fructiferis reflexis. Salvia foliis ovato-oblongis obtusis æqualiter crenatis, corollarum galea semi-orbiculata.

Hort. ups. 11. * Horminum coma viridi. Tournef. inst. 178.

Habitat – – – – [Sun]

It was Tournefort who earlier distinguished these plants based on colour of coma (bract? but usually coma means ‘hairs’ isnt it?) such as :
Horminum coma purpuro-violacea
Horminum coma rubra
Horminum coma viridi… 
The latter one is now our plant. So the name here denotes the colour of Bracts (may not be calyx) as you said.

Firstly, I must say that you have all the signs of a true and hard-core taxonomist. I have Species Plantarum with me and there was some
typographic error in it which you corrected while quoting it here. Hats off to you.

Yes you are right and thanks for the link. Coma doesnt mean hairs, it means tuft of something. It may be tuft of hairs, or leaves or bracts
or anything. For this I am refering to Botanical Latin by Stearn. It does mention hairs but also mentions tuft of green leaves or leafy
crown of a palm tree. But then in description in Sp. Pl., coma viridis means tuft of green something, which should most probably be referring
to calyx or may be hairs as you said.

I thought I had provided the answer when I said that Salvia horminum is now considered as synonym of S. viridis. Let me explain in simple words for those who do not have an access to Species plantarum of Linnaeus (1753) or have not been able to follow the reason for S. viridis having coloured bracts whereas viridis means green

Linnaeus on page 24 describes these two species one after another
viridis                      7. Salvia foliis oblongis crenatis, corollarum, galea semi-orbiculata, calycibus fructiferis reflexis.
horminum                8. Salvia foliis obtusis crenatis, bracteis summis sterilibus majoribus coloratis.  
Salvia viridis with normal green bracts (hence no reference to them) and Salvia horminum with upper bracts coloured and sterile. Obviously the second being much more attractive has been widely cultivated and better known of the two (There is no mention of S. viridis in Bailey, Manual of Cultivated Plants). When these two species were merged into one, all specimens little known normal green plants (S. viridis s. s.) and much better known widely cultivated with upper coloured sterile bracts (S. horminum) are known under the single name S. viridis (s. l., including formerly distinctinct species S. horminum). I think that should explain the mystery of viridis to all.

Quite a mysterious name for sure !!


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