California Pitcher Sage (Lepichinia calycina) – a vignette

On a visit home to the bay area to wish grandma a great 80th birthday as well as to give my blessings to my best friend’s soon-to-be little baby, I took a walk in the hills above Palo Alto with my sister and her two daughters. I had the great fortune to come across a plant in those rolling oak meadows that I love very much – California pitcher sage. It’s a tad stinky, on edge of fetid like clary sage can be, and it also has a rich balsamic sage scent that carries the overall essence towards the pleasurable.

Lepichinia Pitcher Sage.JPG

It has a large, stature, with white bell like flowers on the ends of semi-herbaceous stems.

Lepechinia overall.JPG

You can grow this amazing  plant if you’re in the central California region- it’s easy to grow if you offer the conditions it loves – which include the gorgeous meadows edges along the hills encircling the bay area and likely beyond. Native Here Nursery offers plants for those of you in the East Bay – all their plants are propagated from locally collected seed, so each plant contributes to the overall genetic resilience of the species. A cousin, Lepichinia fragrans, occurs in Southern California.

I’ve never harvested it, as I’ve never found it in abundance – but the medicine I received from just a few minutes of inhaling its scent was all I needed to feel most blessed. Like its distant cousin white sage, it holds space for magic.

One thought on “California Pitcher Sage (Lepichinia calycina) – a vignette

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