Here is an Internet resource I've found.
The Folklore and Cosmetic Use of Various Salvia Species
This is a downloadable file
Very interesting Rich - thanks. But there may be a few slightly concerned that "The wife rules when Sage grows vigoursly in the garden" - or maybe they knew that already!
Seeing the huge list of Salvia varieties prompts the question - are there any published groupings of Salvias into sub genus or other useful groupings? I believe Epling did some work on this, but I can't find any information. Christine Yeo seems to be the only person who has tried in her books, but it has not been taken up by others.
Dr. Ian Hedge, emeritus of the Royal Botanic Garden at Edinburgh wrote the Salvia sections for the following floras I know of: the Flora of Turkey, Flora Iranica (the larger botanic province, not just Iran), the Flora of Pakistan, and the Flora of China, as well as a seminal article on the Salvias of Africa. He concluded that sections did not work well, and opted for a looser definition of groups.
Jay B. Walker did his work at the University of Wisconsin, using DNA to sort out the relationships within the genus Salvia into clades. The interesting results can be found on a web site he and his adviser Dr. Ken Sytsma, set up called the Salvia Research Network.
They concluded that the genus Salvia is polyphyletic, meaning that it has not one but at least three different Lamiaceae ancestors. There is a lot of work needed to sort out relationships on Epling's sections, but without financing, don't expect many results soon.
Dr. Petra Wester has studied the co-evolution of pollinators with Salvias. Her work was at the University of Mainz, and some of it can be downloaded.
Here is a link that might be useful: Salvia Research Network
Many thanks for the reply Rich. You have confirmed the impression that I had reached that it is a complicated subject, made worse by its shear size and the fact than most species are never seen in gardens, and that there are really no suitable groupings.
The Salvia Research Network is a good start, but it doesn't go very far. And even if you Google something like 'subgenus Audibertia' you either find nothing or they want money from you. I had seen the DNA diagram before and was further confused to see that some others members of the Lamiaceae family appear to be closer to Salvia than some Salvias.
The solution must be to just enjoy them and not worry too much!
The main advantage of the Internet for scientific information is that it is two-tiered. The accessible (free) material is either not peer reviewed, or is from journals that are just starting out. They may also not be published on paper, which is expensive. As far as the refereed journals are concerned, even back in the 70s publishing costs were high, and journals were not cheap. They can't exist without funding, especially with the required due diligence.
The Salvia Network is a way to bridge these gaps, but even creating that is tedious.
I was lucky to attend the Advances in Labiatae Science at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew in 1991 at my own expense. Along with a similarly motivated friend from the Netherlands, a couple speakers made note of our efforts to assist academic research and to preserve biodiversity. That was a big boost to my motivation.
I plan to use opportunities to develop a method to discover the parentage of Salvia hybrids through DNA studies. There are a lot of challenges awaiting, such as resolving the color forms of the x jamensis forms, and hybrids of leucantha, such as Waverly and Phyllis Fancy. Even more interesting is the reorganization of some of Eplings sections containing species like microphylla, stolonifera, darcyi, oresbia, schaffneri, puberula, involucrata, cardinalis, fulgens, and gesneriflora, to mention a few.
Contributing to that effort would be a lot of fun for me.
You are of course absolutely right - research is expensive. In my earlier working days I worked in a fibres company research department, and I got so used to walking into a library with the walls covered in journals. Later in life it is difficult when you find that door shut to you.
I have mixed feelings about DNA based research. On one hand it is hugely important, but on the other hand it is not something that people can do at home. Before DNA, a microscope, a camera and a notebook could make you a king!
As a retired natural products/synthetic organic chemist, I know this well. I have a file cabinet of organic chemistry and Salvia essential oil composition references I have to work on. It has been a decade or more, though, since I have been to a library to make personal use articles, especially for just the cost of xeroxing. My access to botanic articles on Salvias is even more constrained to the Internet, except for the occasional help from academics.
You said "I plan to use opportunities to develop a method to discover the parentage of Salvia hybrids through DNA studies".
How can you gain access to DNA data. I assume you don't have a sequencing machine in your kitchen!
I may have access to some kind of utility at a local university at some time. I am not sure of its extent. I think I will perhaps be able to just work on a very narrow part of the sequence useful for determining parentage. The hands-on aspect as well as the theory of this field is new to me. I am certainly not going to determine the whole sequence of a group of sages.
Whatever may be offered to me, it will be quite limited in scope. I still have to find the time and cover the transportation costs.
Rich - that sounds really interesting - what an opportunity. Also nice to have an area that you could call your own. I suspect that a lot of research these days is in high profile but very crowded areas.
Well, of the three main types of college departments of science, biology has seen much higher increases in funding than either chemistry or physics. This is not for basic research, but for biotech projects that promise a short term heavy returns on capitalization of the results.
In fact, a lot of subdepartments like soil science in a local university are closing. This is strange, considering the need for continued work in this area for environmental concerns.
I believe the government cut funding for astrophysics and basic particle physics by 80% in the current budget.
One environmentally useful product will make it out sometime this year: The 2nd edition of the Synthesis of the North American Flora. I have a beta version on my computer, and it will be possible to see the county distribution of every vascular plant species in North America. Many features have been added. One great emphasis is on non-native and invasive species. AS more features are added, this relational data base will become a necessary tool to keep up with the effects of environmental degradation and global warming.
See the URL for details. This work is being done by Dr. John Kartesz, a very dedicated scientist. He has had precious little support, but has managed to eke out enough to complete the second edition.
If I ever get the resources, I'd like to do something similar for all of the known Salvias on a much more modest scale. I've already begun to build parts of the data bases that I will need.
Here is a link that might be useful: Second edition of the Synthesis of the North American Flora
I have had a good look at that site. Its going to be an amazing piece of work. It would be nice to have a map of growing conditions as well - temperature, soil type, rainfall etc, that you could superimpose over the plant distribution map - to see the link.
I also like the idea of identification from morphological questions and photos. As a newcomer to Salvias (and gardening) I am still waiting and hopeing to find a taxonomic key which would allow me to identify any plant that I saw in a garden. Such a key for Salvias would be most interesting, but I suspect that it would be very difficult. It is one thing to observe the gross differences between families, but the fine differences within a Genus are another thing
There is certainly a lot of scope for work in that area. To produce your own map of the distribution of Salvias would be wonderful - but I suspect that there must be a lot of holes in the data that is available, and a massive job to fill them.
> ...and it will be possible to see the county distribution of every vascular plant species in North America
Which is not particularly useful in the west, as some counties are huge -- larger than some eastern states -- and they include a wide range of habitats and climates.
One of the features of his database includes mapping the intersections of political boundaries (national, state, provincial, and county) with the relief boundaries of USGS topographic maps. That information is part of the database also, and the technique had to be developed from scratch. In this edition, the information is used to determine the highest and lowest points of elevation.
John has already laid the foundation for the third edition by including the collection site data for the different species. He has had his hands full with all the other features. After improving them to remove bugs, integrating them more tightly, and adjusting them to adapt to the expectations of the beta testers, he has about reached the point to issue the second edition.
After this has been out for a while, he will add the plant collection site GPS data and improve and add to the features for a third edition. I'm sure the Canadian users will like that, since there seem to be no equivalents to counties there.
I think that he wants the multiple features to evolve in a coequal and compatible way, to optimize the value of the different editions and to stimulate the proper development of the older features and explore the needs for new ones. Think of the earlier editions of the various office (word processor, spreadsheet, presentation) software. I believe MS Word and WordPerfect are going for their 14th editions. John is trying to do this over three editions.
Since the same features of his database will work on animals, he is into developing a parallel database for vertebrates. Having worked out the methods for the plants with the second edition, this will go faster.