Photography: Ed Massery
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Photography: Whole Foods Market (client)
Photography: The Kleingers Group
Perovskia atriplicifolia, commonly called Russian sage, is a flowering herbaceous perennial plant and subshrub. Although not a member of Salvia, the genus of other plants commonly called sage, it is closely related to them. It has an upright habit, typically reaching 0.5–1.2 m (1 ft 8 in–3 ft 11 in) tall, with square stems and gray-green leaves that yield a distinctive odor when crushed, but it is best known for its flowers. Its flowering season extends from mid-summer to as late as October, with blue to violet blossoms arranged into showy, branched panicles.
Within the family Lamiaceae, the large genus Salvia had long been believed monophyletic, based on the structure of its stamina. Several smaller genera, including Dorystaechas, Perovskia, and Meriandra were also included in tribe Mentheae, but were thought more distantly related. In 2004, a molecular phylogenetics study based on two cpDNA genes (rbcL and trnL-F) demonstrated that Salvia is not monophyletic, but comprises three identifiable clades. Clade I is more closely related to Perovskia than to other members of Salvia.