Having planted Salvia subpalmatinervis in the garden in the last six months, I was looking forward to it flowering sometime soon. It had been sitting in my nursery just producing leaves and I thought it was past time to get it into the ground. Well! A week or so ago it started to put up a flowering stem. Yes! I’m thinking, here we go!! Then it flowered,,,, my heart sank. From a distance it didn’t look quite what I was expecting. The photo’s I had seen of subpalmatinervis were of a pinkish coloured flower and quite tubular in shape. As I moved in for a closer look my disappointment grew. What I had before me was a blue flower with big white guidelines just like S. forskaholei.
I consulted an expert and I got the same diagnoses, I had a ring in. The mystery deepened, I needed to have a really close look at this imposter. The closer inspection confirmed I had S. forskaholei and this was backed up by the foliage. Hang on! There’s slightly different leaves here as well. What the!
Lo and behold I have two different p[plants in the same hole. By the look of it I still have S. subpalmatinervis which is taking a back seat somewhat while S. forskaholei flowers its heart out. Yes, S. forskaholei can seed around a bit, so I can only presume that while S. subpalmatinervis was languishing in its pot before planting that a seed of S. forskaholei managed to find its way into this particular pot. The intruder will move to a new home and stop renting with S. subpalmatinervis.
Why did I not see this before? I think the forskaholei leaves when young were a similar shape(roughly speaking), the colour and texture of the leaves is nearly identical. Above photo shows leaves of subpalmatinervis and below photo is forskaholei.
Mix the two together and you get this, see below.
That’s why botanists use every part of a plant to identify it – flowers, seed, leaves, stems, bark and even the roots. What’s the moral of the story here? None actually but if you want to analyse it to the nth degree, there was excitement, anticipation, disappointment, bemusement, hilarity and a fair bit of amusement, especially now.
Still waiting for that subpalmatinervis to flower!