Mediterranean sage

Salvia aethiopis

Keys to Identification

  • Sometimes sold as Ethiopian Sage in local nurseries
  • Mediterranean Sage is an aggressive ornamental plant
  • Has invaded over 400 acres of rangeland in northern Boulder County
  • Large wooly leaves that are strongly aromatic
  • Mediterranean Sage produces a profusion of showy, white flowers
  • This weed usually becomes established in sparsely vegetated land, but will readily invade rangelands in good condition

This information courtesy of the Colorado Natural Areas Program


Mint (Lamiaceae)

Other Names

African sage



Legal Status

Colorado Noxious Weed List A



Biennial or short-lived perennial

Growth form



Flowers are two-lipped, yellowish-white and born in a candelabra-like inflorescence. June-Aug.


Each flower develops four nutlets that are smooth with dark veins.


First-year rosette leaves are large, grayish, and woolly. Lower stem leaves have stalks are lobed, with coarsely-toothed blades 0.3-1 foot long. Upper stem leaves are smaller and clasp the stem.


Mature plants are 2-3 ft tall and highly branched above.


No information available.


No information available.

Similar Species


Meadow sage (S. pratensis) resembles Mediterranean sage, but usually has blue flowers, and is more coarsely hairy.


No information available.



It is unpalatable to grazing animals and it reduces the amount of forage available for livestock.


Mediterranean sage spreads rapidly into disturbed pasture, rangeland, meadows, and other open areas.

Habitat and Distribution

General requirements

Mediterranean sage usually invades disturbed pasture, rangeland, meadows, riparian areas, along roadsides, and other open areas. It prefers well-drained soils and dry conditions. In the western states, Mediterranean sage grows in sagebrush steppe and ponderosa pine zones.


A few locations in Colorado including Boulder and Garfield counties. It is also found in Pacific coastal states.


Mediterranean sage is a native of the Mediterranean and northern Africa.


Life cycle

Mediterranean sage is a biennial that produces a large rosette the first year. During the second year, the plant bolts, producing multi-branched stems with white to blue-green, woolly, felt-like leaves. Plants flower from June to August. During the hottest part of the summer, the plant becomes dormant (Roché and Wilson 1999).

Mode of reproduction


Seed production

A single plant may produce thousands of seeds.


Seeds are spread easily because the mature plant forms a tumbleweed (Whitson et al. 1996).


Calweed Database. 1997. California Noxious Weed Control Projects Inventory. Natural Resource Projects Inventory, Information Center for the Environment, University of California, Davis. Available:

Roché, C.T. and L.M. Wilson. 1999. Mediterranean sage. In: R.L. Sheley and J.K. Petroff (eds.). Biology and management of noxious rangeland weeds. Oregon State University Press, Corvallis. pg. 261-270.

Whitson, T.D.(ed.), L.C. Burrill, S.A. Dewey, D.W. Cudney, B.E. Nelson, R.D. Lee, R. Parker. 1996. Mediterranean sage. Weeds of the West. Western Society of Weed Science, in cooperation with the Western United States Land Grant Universities Cooperative Extension Services, Newark CA. pg. 368.

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