Salvia columbariae - Benth.
Common Name Chia, Ziegler's sage
Family Lamiaceae or Labiatae
USDA hardiness 6-9
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Dry open places below 1200 metres[92].
Range South-western N. America - California.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun

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Salvia columbariae Chia,  Ziegler
Salvia columbariae Chia,  Ziegler
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of flower
Salvia columbariae is a ANNUAL/PERENNIAL growing to 0.7 m (2ft 4in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 7 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to September, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.


 Cultivated Beds;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Seed.
Edible Uses: Condiment;  Drink.

Seed - raw or cooked[92, 94, 95, 257]. Usually ground into a powder and used as piñole or made into dark-coloured cakes and loaves[183], it has a nutty flavour[92]. It can also be mixed with corn meal when making mush or with ground wheat for gruel[183]. Rich in niacin, thiamine, zinc, calcium and manganese[160], it is also a good source of protein and easily digested fats[274]. It has a high food value and is easily digested[92]. The sprouted seeds can be added to salads and sandwiches[160, 183]. A refreshing drink can be made by steeping the seed in cold water[92, 94, 95, 183]. Alternatively, the seed can be roasted and ground into a powder then mixed with water when it soon becomes a copious gelatinous mass[2]. It is very palatable and nutritious[2]. The seed has been used to render water palatable by removing the alkalis[257]. The leaves are occasionally used as a sage-like seasoning[183].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Digestive;  Disinfectant;  Febrifuge;  Ophthalmic.

The seed is digestive, disinfectant, febrifuge and ophthalmic[94, 257]. An infusion can be used in the treatment of fevers[257]. A poultice of the seed mush can be applied to infections[257]. The seeds have been kept in the mouth, and chewed during long journeys on foot, in order to give strength[257]. The seeds have been used to cleanse the eyes or remove foreign matter from the eyes[257]. No more information is given here, but in other instances the seed has been placed in the eye, it then forms a gelatinous covering to which any foreign matter in the eye adheres. The seed is washed out of the eye by the eyes own tears[K].


Other Uses

None known
Cultivation details
Requires a very well-drained light sandy soil in a sunny position[200]. Prefers a rich soil[1]. Plants are lodge resistant[160]. This plant was a staple food crop of the Aztecs[142]. It is often cultivated for its edible seeds, which are used to make a refreshing and nourishing drink. A good bee plant[61]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233].
Seed - sow April in situ. The plant dislikes root disturbance. If seed supplies are limited then it can be sown in a pot in a greenhouse in March/April, potted up into individual pots as soon as the seedlings are large enough to handle then planted out in May. Germination usually takes 10 - 14 days at 20°c.
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Cistus salviifoliusRock Rose, Salvia cistus, Sage Leaf Rock Rose10
Salvia apianaWhite Sage, Compact white sage31
Salvia ballotaeflora 10
Salvia carduaceaThistle Sage20
Salvia carnosaPurple Sage12
Salvia clevelandiiBlue Sage, Fragrant sage, Chaparral Sage10
Salvia elegansPineapple Sage, Pineapple-scented Sage,10
Salvia fruticosaGreek Sage, Greek oregano23
Salvia glabrescens 10
Salvia glutinosaJupiter's Distaff, Sticky Sage10
Salvia hispanicaMexican Chia, Chia30
Salvia japonica 10
Salvia lanata 11
Salvia lanigeraWrinkle-Leaved Sage10
Salvia lavandulifoliaSpanish Sage23
Salvia lyrataCancer Weed, Lyreleaf Sage02
Salvia melliferaCalifornian Black Sage12
Salvia microphyllaBlackcurrant Sage22
Salvia moorcroftiana 11
Salvia multicaulis 10
Salvia multiorrhizaDan Shen03
Salvia officinalisSage, Kitchen sage, Small Leaf Sage, Garden Sage35
Salvia plebeia 11
Salvia pomiferaApple Sage22
Salvia pratensisMeadow Clary, Introduced sage10
Salvia reflexaMintweed, Lanceleaf sage10
Salvia sclareaClary, Europe sage, Clary Sage22
Salvia stachyoides 10
Salvia sylvestrisBalkan Clary, Woodland sage10


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Botanical References
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
Readers comment
Kenna Hillman   Fri Feb 17 2006
I am trying to purchase this form of Chia -- not the one from Mexico. But, I am having difficulty finding a source which sales either the seed or the plant of Salvia columbariae. Is there anyone with a source to share? Thank you!!
Roy hamilton   Mon Sep 11 2006
I too am trying to find a British/european source of pinole with no luck. With the food milage being a very real issue these days, can anybody help?
brandi   Sat Aug 11 2007
The seed can be purchased from Native Seed Search in Tucson, AZ in 4oz, 8oz or 1 lb.

Native Seed Search source for S. columbariae seed

   Sat Jan 5 2008
It is also the same seed used for ChiaPets!
jesse   Fri Jul 17 2009
hi! i work at a lab where we are trying to germinate these seeds. they have to be stimulated with smoke to germinate, as a simulation of fire. unless they have been treated in this way, they won't germinate.
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Subject : Salvia columbariae  

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