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Products > Lepechinia fragrans
Lepechinia fragrans - Fragrant Pitcher Sage
Image of Lepechinia fragrans
[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Lamiaceae (Labiatae) (Mints)
Origin: California (U.S.A.)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Lavender Pink
Bloomtime: Spring/Summer
Height: 4-6 feet
Width: 4-6 feet
Exposure: Sun or Shade
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
Lepechinia fragrans (Fragrant Pitcher Sage) - A herbaceous subshrub that grows to 6 feet tall by as wide or wider with square stems holding green lanceolate leaves that initially have petioles and are up to 5 inches during spring growth with older leaves 2 inches long and lacking the petioles. These stems and the leaves are covered with short hairs, giving the entire plant a fuzzy gray-green appearance. In spring appear the flowers on 1- to 2-foot-long inflorescences with a persistent 5 lobed fuzzy green calyx marked with red venation surrounding the 1 inch long bilabiate bell-shaped lavender-pink corolla with the lower lip extended and usually lighter colored, with the upper fused petals shorter, darker and often reflexed. As the flower ages and petals drop off, the calyx enlarges and darkens, extending the floral display.

Plant in full sun or light shade in moderately well-drained soils and occasional to infrequent irrigation - this is a drought tolerant plant! Hardy to temperatures down to around 20 F and useful in USDA zones 9-11. Pinch back new growth regularly for a fuller more compact plant. It is not exceedingly long lived but is and attractive and easy to grow native California plant for the plant garden and is pleasantly scented when touched and attractive to pollinators such as bumblebees and humingbirds.

Lepechinia fragrans grows naturally in dry canyons and slopes from 200 to 3,600 feet in elevation in the Transverse Ranges from the San Gabriel Mountains through the Santa Monica Mountains out to the north Channel Islands of Santa Rosa Island and Santa Cruz Island. The genus was named for the 18th century Russian physician, naturalist and explorer Ivan Ivanovich Lepechin. The genus Lepechiniella in the Boraginaceae was also named in his honor, as was Mount Lepechin in the North Urals and the town of Lepechin in Saratov. The specific epithet is in reference to the fragrant foliage of this plant.

The listing in Carol Bornstein, Dave Fross and Bart Obrien's California Native Plants for the Garden states that it "has the most attractive flowers and most pleasing scent of all our native pitcher sage species. Showy foxglove-like lavender flowers are produced along lax 1- to 2-foot-long inflorescences in spring and early summer. The fruity scent of the foliage is hard to place, yet delightful." 

This information about Lepechinia fragrans displayed on this web page is based on research we have conducted in our horticultural library and from reliable online resources. We also will relate observations we have made about it as it grows in our nursery gardens and other gardens visited, as well how our crops have performed in containers in the nursery field. Where appropriate, we will also incorporate comments that we receive from others and we welcome hearing from anyone with additional information, particularly if they can share cultural information that would aid others in growing this plant.