Salvia melissodora is a perennial herbaceous shrub also known as grape-scented sage. Salvia melissodora originated in Mexico's Sierra Madre Oriental mountains, which range from Oaxaca up to Chihuahua. The woody shrub has a pleasant lavender fragrance. Historically, the shrub has been used for many medicinal purposes.
Salvia melissodora can grow to 4 feet in width and 6 feet in height. Its ovate leaves reach up to 1 1/2 inches long. The sweetly fragrant leaves have striking veins with hairs on the lower surface and a moderate green color on top. The inflorescences (flower clusters) of the Salvia melissodora are short and comprised of several whorls. The violet flowers contain nectar and attract hummingbirds, butterflies and other insects.
Salvia melissodora grows well in afternoon shade or full sun. It is highly tolerant of drought, and it is also avoided by deer. Salvia melissodora blooms the most in the autumn, winter and the spring. During the cultivation season, it must be pinched back to prevent it from growing too openly. It requires regular watering and quick-draining soil. The plant is hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 and 10.
The leaves and seeds of the Salvia melissodora have for centuries been used by the Tarahumara native peoples of Mexico for the reduction of fever. Because of this, the plant was once referred to botanically as "Tarahumara."
Salvia melissodora is commonly used to make tea. Flower blossoms and fresh leaves of the plant are brewed in order to produce an ambrosia that has a light taste similar to that of green grapes. The tea can be consumed both iced and hot.
The plant's name, Salvia melissodora, comes from the Greek words for honeybee and fragrant. "Melissa" means honeybee, while "odora" means fragrance. In Greek mythology, Melissa was a nymph from Crete that collected honey.