Has anyone seen the real species? Is this it?
Here is a lateral view.
It is a nice robust plant, seemingly happy growing in a large container.
True S. hians has a rather large flower, about 2.5 to 4 times the size of S. przewalskii, and the color is two-toned blue, with one shade darker and bluer than the other and a white lower lip. I got mine from Srinagar, Pakistan from P. Kohli and Sons a long time ago, along with a S. nubicola that was colored the same way the image in .Concise Flowers of the Himalaya, by Oleg Polunin and Adam Stainton.
The S. nubicola I grew and the one in the book had an almost orange upper lip, or hood, really burnt orange, because of the density and shade of the purplish dots.
Here is a link that might be useful: Concise Flowers of the Himalaya
Thanks, Richard. Someday before I croak I hope to see the true hians in my garden
It seems to me that this species has become like the Holy Grail: even if one possesses it they are never quite sure of that fact, and everyone around them stirs the pot of confusion rapidly and no one is ever sure of what they have or don't have.
Many of the "Chinese" herbaceous perennial Salvias have overlapping ranges, and there is a great deal of both inter-species hybridization and naming confusion. This subject area will be confused and open to interpretation until a thorough study is done, which I very much doubt will be in my lifetime. We are still germinating seeds of newly collected "species: from these areas, and trying to make sense of their systematics. I can't think of another group of Salvias where there is greater confusion, often self imposed.
I have seen at least three totally contradictory descriptions of this species from respected authorities. And even more in older books. Who is right? Flip a coin. Or call the large flowered clearly two tone (usually - climate makes a great difference) blue that is or is close to these pictures S. hians. That's what I choose to do. Grail quests are for younger folks!
Dan Hinkley, while he was running Heronswood, sent me one cool spring an unknown Chinese sage that we both thought might be S. dolicantha. It grew nicely and even bloomed. At first, while still in unusually cool weather, the flowers were the lovely large size.
Not for long. A hot spell immediately followed, and the remaining flowers on the spikes were vastly reduced in size. The attachment is of the scanned spike, before flower size reduction.
Other sages undergo this reduction in heat, like S. chamaedryoides, but not quite so dramatically.
Here is a link that might be useful: