Salvia columbariae – Chia

Salvia columbariae - Chia (violet flowers)

Salvia columbariae - Chia (white flowers)

Salvia columbariae - Chia

Plant Name

Scientific Name: Salvia columbariae

Common Name: Chia

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Annual

Growth Habit: Herb/Forb

Arizona Native Status: Native

Habitat: Desert

Flower Color: Violet, White (rare)

Flowering Season: Spring

Height: To 20 inches (51 cm) tall

Description: The flowers are in spiky bracted, purple-tinged, globular clusters that are often stacked on top of each other along the upright flower stalks. The individual flowers are small, tubular, and 2-lipped with lobed upper and lower lips. The leaves have deeply recessed veins and are dark green, oblong, pinnately divided, crinkled, and mainly basal. The stems are square in cross section.

Special Characteristics

Culturally Significant Plant – Native Americans have long cultivated these plants and used the seeds for food, beverages, and for medicinal purposes.

Edible – The seeds are edible and form a thick mucilage in water, making an unusual but healthful drink. The seeds are currently being studied for their role in treating diabetes.

Fragrant – The leaves smell minty when crushed.


Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass: Asteridae
Order: Lamiales
Family: Lamiaceae – Mint family
Genus: Salvia L. – sage
Species: Salvia columbariae Benth. – chia

More About This Plant

Arizona County Distribution Map