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Salvia (Lamiaceae)

Studying the uses and biological activity of Salvia; demonstrating its horticultural value through the Salvia border

Salvia splendens 'Van Houttei';  Photo: Gwilym Lewis

The Lamiaceae team's work on Salvia has concentrated on the phylogeny of the new world species, the use and activity of the genus and its horticultural value.

A new Salvia display, adjacent to the rock garden, has been planted. It is composed of two separate borders, one displaying species from Europe, Africa, Mediterranean, and Central / Eastern Asia, the other focusing on New World species. Salvia is becoming a very popular horticultural plant and this display illustrates both the beauty and diversity of the genus.  The collection has been used to support research on the phylogeny, phytochemistry and biological activity of the genus, with over 150 accessions of Salvia being added to the DNA bank. Development of the Salvia border and its interpretation will continue and help present our multidisciplinary work to the public.

Many species of Salvia have medicinal properties and although the active ingredients in some species are known, the active components in most species have not been determined.  In this project we aim to compare the medicinal uses of Salvia from Europe and the New World, with those from Asia and then look at the relationships between chemistry and uses.  The information about chemistry and traditional uses will then be superimposed onto the new phylogenies being produced for the genus.  It is planned to use the resulting information to select species for further chemical studies.  Currently we are studying the biological properties of Salvia in the areas of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, cancer and their role in modulating insect feeding behaviour.   Previous research and review publications have also explored the use of Salvia derived compounds in cosmetics, treatment of dementias and other memory disorders, diabetes and as replacement for bear bile in traditional Chinese medicine.

Project partners and collaborators

BrazilUniversity of Curitiba, Paraná
USAUniversity of Michigan

Project funders



Project team

Herbarium, Library, Art & Archives

Gemma Bramley, Alan Paton

Horticulture (Kew Gardens)

Michelle Cleave, Joanne Everson, John Sitch

Jodrell Laboratory

Renée Grayer, Melanie-Jayne Howes, Monique Simmonds

Science Teams: 
Project Leader: