Salvias and alleopathy

dicotAugust 10, 2007

Continuing a debate from the CA forum, Salvia leucophylla, Salvia apiana, and other native xeric sages as well as other Lamiaceae members, such as Artemisia californica, are considered by many to be "alleopathic".

Terpene chemicals present in the resinous foliage and fallen leaves of chaparral shrubs inhibit germination of wildflower seeds, a phenomenon known as allelopathy. Fire destroys these inhibitory chemicals that have leached into the soil, and explains the abundance of wildflowers in recently burned chaparral.

Have any of you long-time sage growers noticed this around certain sages? I can't say I have, but haven't really looked that closely either - the bermuda grass still grows under my white sages, but I can't think of too many volunteer annuals that have.

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I think that some are more alleopathic than others, I have no trouble germinating apiana,leucophylla etc, They have great germinating rates, but others such as carduacea,clevelandii, I need the smoke discs to get them going. We have also got a lot off plants here in Oz that germinate better after bush fires the biggest example is the grass tree.


    Bookmark   August 10, 2007 at 8:08PM
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CA Kate

I didn't put two and two together until I read this post. While I pull a lot of weeds and grass from the beds there is never any in, under or around most of the Salvias. Interesting.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 12:52AM
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rich_dufresne(z7 NC)

The California sages (subgenus Audibertia) are the ones with inhibitory terpenes. This is a separate issue from the germination of the seeds of these sages.

There is no advantage in the inhibition of their own seeds. Soaking in 100 ppm gibberellic acid for 30 minutes with shaking breaks all kinds of dormancy in Salvia species and other Lamiaceae.

One of the chemicals found in these sages is camphor.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2007 at 10:53AM
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Does Salvia Blue Bedder, Coral Nymph or Victoria have this whatever it is you are talking about (learning as I go?)

I have reseeds around those plants, so I guess not, right?

This is all so interesting but haven't a clue as to what you actually mean by "smoke discs"... was that a joke?

Ha Ha (laughing along with you)


    Bookmark   September 5, 2007 at 6:50PM
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rich_dufresne(z7 NC)

None of the sages you mentioned have allelopathic traits as far as I know. The ones that do are the desert sages of California.

Smoke disks are a source of the chemicals found in smoke that break dormant seed that needs fire to germinate. Smoke is drawn through pieces of porous paper like filter paper, which traps the chemicals. These dissolve in the water used to moisten the seeds.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 12:34AM
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