Disermas Forms

S. disermas ( white)
S. disermas ‘ Slimline’  syn rugosa
S. disermas ‘Pale Pink’
S. disermas var compacta  syn Broadleaf
S. disermas x ‘Purple’
S. disermas x ‘Dark Pink’

  • Listing and documenting all the forms of Salvia disermas
  • A  plant acquired by Graham and Velda Ellis by seed from Silverhill in Sth Africa 1993
  • Shrub to 1m, upright (the image in Betsy Clebsch resembles this plant form.
  • Meg and Lyndi acquired a plant from Graham Ellis years ago, named S. rugosa – a form with relatively narrow leaves, white flowers and a floppy form.  Pat and others have a similar plant from a similar era from Sue Templeton, named S. disermas.  Lyndi subsequently has a more upright white form with much wider, more indented leaves, acquired with the name ‘disermas’.  Reference to the sources reveal that the plant disermas can be very variable in leaf, flower colour and habit.  Furthermore, S. disermas is closely related to S. radula – upright and white flowered.  ( Some hybridisation ?)

Forms of Salvia disermas  currently in circulation

There have been various plants in circulation locally for some years under the name of S. disermas  and/or S. rugosa. The information and photographs  available on the internet are inadequate.   Reference to the Flora of South Africa, vol 8 – Lamiaceae, makes it clear that S. disermas is a very variable species, and that S. rugosa is a synonym for S. disermas.    It was agreed therefore that the name ‘rugosa’ should be discontinued.

The group examined the 6 plants available and made the following observations:

Salvia disermas

 Salvia disermas.

Leaves grey, very triangular in outline, with biserrate  margins, 50 – 60mm, being  hairy on both surfaces, and prominent on veins on lower surface. Stem, green and hairy
Calyx ribbed, very hairy and sticky, 6/7mm in length, full with seed.

Inflorescence: Corolla 15mm long, white. Upper lip hooded on emergence from the calyx, hood – 8mm, tubular within the calyx, lower lip with cupped median lobe, both stigma and stamens exerted.

A good garden plant for hot dry sunny positions, growing up to 60cmH, the bees love this plant. Plant behind lower plants, excellent in a perennial border. Good drainage, hates wet feet. Needs trimming to keep it bushy.
Easy to propagate, this form is best from cuttings as seed may not come true.

disermas ‘Slim Line’ syn rugosa

This is a more lax plant, reaching a max of 60cm.   The image of S. disermas, in Christian Froissart’s book, resembles this plant.

disermas ‘Slimline’ flower, plant and leaves

Leaves; light green, oblong lanceolate, rugose, 60 – 80mm lobulate, slightly hairy on both surfaces.  Oil glands can be seen on both surfaces.
Stem: very hairy.
Calyx: fat with seed, ribbed, hairy and green, 12mm long.
Corolla: white, with tinge of pink on hood.  Slightly larger than it’s parent, both the stigma and stamens are exerted slightly.

This is another very good plant for those hot dry sunny positions. As this form can be lax, it makes an excellent plant for rockeries, hanging over a sleeper wall or a ground cover at the front of the bed.

disermas ‘Pale Pink’

Salvia disermas ‘Pale Pink’

This pale pink form was sold in Australia as S. eigii for some time.  It begins as a clumping form, and then the stems begin to cascade over.

Leaves: thin texture,, not rugose, triangular, 120 -140mm long, by 80 – 100mm wide at the base.  Margins lobulate.  Upper surface has small groups of short hairs and glands, lower surface also has fewer hairs than in Form 1.  Hairs not uniform in length.
Petiole long – 100mm – sessile at base of inflorescence
Inflorescence:150 – 160mm, verticils of 6 flowers spaced at 40 -50mm intervals, getting closer towards the top.
Corolla: soft pink, larger than other forms.  20 -25mm in total, hood 10 -11mm, lower lip 5 – 6 mm, whitish, median lobe markedly cupped, prominent lateral lobes ”rolled”.
Stigma: pink, exserted: Stamens: not exserted
Bracts: large, persistent, wide, acuminate
Calyx: green, very hairy, sticky with oil glands, ribbed.  3 points at tip of upper lip, 2 on lower lip

Summary: in spite of tendency to flop, a good garden plant to fill a space.  Good in shade or sun, frost tolerant.  Best to replace periodically, as it can become woody at base.

disermas var ‘Compacta’ syn ‘Broad leaf’

Salvia disermas var compacta

Small shrub at Geelong Botanical Gardens (origin unknown to this group)

Leaves: mid green, deltoid/cordate, with blunt tip.  Both surfaces rugose, hairy, glandular.
Petiole: 40mm – also hairy and glandular.
Inflorescence: 150(+) mm, verticils spaced at 40mm, getting closer towards top, lower verticils on a 100mm pedicel, containing only 3 flowers.
Corolla: white, 18 0 20 mm in total length, hood 8 – 10mm
Stigma exserted, white.  Stamens: white
Bract: at base of inflorescence Large: 15mm long by 10mm wide.
Calyx: prominent ribs, very hairy and glandular, 12mm, laterally compressed towards end, upper lip turning upwards, 2 points at tip.  Lower lip with 2 points

A more compact plant – 40 – 60mm high, a useful  tough white Salvia for sunny areas.  Salvia disermas var compacta

disermas x ‘Purple’salvia-disermas-purple-form-08-11-04Salvia disermas x ‘Purple’

A very tall plant with small purple (mauve) flowers, of unknown origin.
Leaves: oblong/lanceolate, margins biserrate/lobulate, rugose, lower surface very hairy and slightly glandular, but not sticky.  Smells a bit like disermas.
Petiole: very hairy, 40mm at lower leaves to sessile at base of inflorescence.
Stem: very hairy (white hairs) but coloured in the lower part.
Inflorescence: branched, very long – 630mm, inter-verticil spacing 50mm, getting smaller towards the top.
Corolla: upper lip very hooded, light mauve.
Lower lip darker – purple, with cupped median lobe.  Small – total length 11mm (hood 5mm), lower lip 5mm, with paler bee-line markings.
Stigma purple, Stamens: hidden
Bract at base of inflorescence: large, crenate and very acuminate
Bracteoles to verticils persistent
Calyx: colouring on upper surface. Very ribbed, 8 – 9mm, 3 points to upper lip, hairy, glandular, 2 points to lower lip very long and prominent

Flowers very small, flower stem very long . Good plant for a sunny dry area in the middle of the garden bed or behind a hedge.

disermas x ‘Pink’

salvia-disermas-darker-pink-form-08-11-04

disermas x ‘Pink’ 

Similar to the purple, but a darker pink.

Leaves: lanceolate/cordate, margins biserrate/lobulate, 100mm long by 60mm wide. Rugose, but soft and velvety underneath. Minute glands.
Petiole: 60mm, sessile at base of inflorescence.
Stem: hairy, coloured up to branching inflorescence.
Inflorescence: stem green and hairy, strong, upright, 480mm, verticils spaced evenly at 40mm.
Corolla: hood deep pink, lower lip paler pink with purple bee-line markings. 18 -20mm long, with hood 8mm are hairy.  Lower lip 5-6mm, cupped median lobe. Stigma pink, barely exserted, Stamens white, not exserted.
Bract at base of inflorescence: 50mm long, 40mm wide and very acuminate.
Calyx:   green, hairy, glandular, ribbed, 3 points on upper lip, 2 on lower lip, also less pointed

A  good, garden-worthy plant, with strong upright stems.
A tough plant for sunny areas, in the middle of a garden bed or behind a small hedge
: Salvia disermas x ‘ Pink’

(Branch of the Herb Society of Victoria Inc.)