Reproduction

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Salvia divinorum blooms in response to short days with uninterrupted periods of darkness at least twelve hours in length. In its native range, it sporadically blooms between the months of August and March, although native populations of S. divinorum have yet to be observed producing mature seeds (Casselman et al, 2014; Valdes et al, 1987). The flowers, which have white corollas and purple calices, are not uncommon to cultivators outside the mint’s native range, and through hand pollination or natural methods growers can produce mature nutlets (Kowalczuk et al, 2014; Hanna, 1999).

Even when seed production is one of the aims of cultivation, however, S. divinorum produces few seeds, and those produced generally have low germination rates. Additionally, few of the seedlings that manage to germinate survive. Studies compiled by Jon Hanna on the seed production of S. divinorum demonstrated a seed set between 2.5 and 14.3 percent, with germination rates that varied from 17 to 33 percent. It has been suggested that most, or all, of the clones cultivated outside of Mexico are genetically identical, which may explain the low seed production and seed germination S. divinorum exhibits (Hanna, 1999). However, Casselman et al. (2014) note that the native organic methods of pollination of S. divinorum are unknown. Interestingly, some of the plant’s physical characteristics (flower dimensions and nectar qualities in particular) contribute to the suggestion that its natural pollination may be performed by an as of yet unidentified bird species. This hypothesis is also supported by the fact that hummingbirds have been witnessed to feed opportunistically on cultivated S. divinorum plants. In its native range, S. divinorum appears to exclusively propagate itself asexually through vegetative reproduction by rooting from branches that reach, or break and fall onto, moist soil (Casselman et al, 2014).

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© Joseph Guite; Editor(s): Anneke DeLuycker

Supplier: Anneke DeLuycker

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