The Enemy – Mediterranean sage (Salvia aethiopis) is a plant that was introduced from Europe as a contaminate in alfalfa seed. This plant is in the Mint family, thus the stem is square in shape. The plant invades mostly dry areas in rangelands and sagebrush communities. It has gray-green deeply toothed, pubescent (hairy/wooly) leaves. The irriegular flowers are pale yellow to white in whorls of 5-10. The stems branch near the top into broad series of flowers. Each flower produces four egg-shaped nutlets containing seeds. The plant resembles common mullein early in the spring although Common mullein is absent of the sage-like smell.
The Attack – This plant can be very aggressive in the sensitive rangelands. It is unforageable to livestock and wildlife, thus it spreads quickly in these pristine sites. The light seeds with a plume can spread long distances in the wind and the seeds can last many years in the soil. The plant acts like a tumbleweed and can spread likewise for long distance. Although this plant smells like a Sage Brush, it is not in the same family.
The Defense – Control can be done by using a shovel early in the infestation. There is a weevil that attacks the root but it is slow acting and the growth of the plant can spread faster than the insect. Numerous herbicides are available, such as, Escort XP, Tordon 22k, Chaparral, and in some cases Roundup Pro. This plant has yet to be found in some parts of Idaho, so if you find it please, please report it to your local weed control superintendent.
PLEASE NOTE – The proper use and application of herbicides can be an effective way to control and eradicate noxious and invasive plants. Before using herbicides, always carefully follow the label and safety instructions on the label. While we recommend the use of herbicides as one of the effective tools for integrated pest management, the Idaho Weed Awareness Campaign assumes no liability for herbicide applications.