OFFICIAL STATE NATIVE SHRUB NOW BLOOMING IN TEXOMA AREA
In the late 1820’s a botanist by the name of Jean Louis Berlandier described a shrub with silvery gray to green foliage which, after a good rain, opened its showy blooms of purple to lavender, pink, blue or white. It is Texas purple sage, Leucophyllum frutescens, and is also known as cenizo, Texas Rain Sage, barometer bush and silverleaf. Once established, it’s well suited for our area – drought and heat tolerant and maintenance-free (well, a little pruning in late winter or early spring will keep it looking its best).
The name “barometer bush” comes from the flowering that appears after high soil moisture or humidity from rain in late summer into the fall season. You’ll see them around town in xeriscapes and along highways and in commercial landscapes. At maturity, they can be up to 8 feet tall and wide. It grows best in full sun (4 to 6 hours daily), very well drained alkaline soil and little to no fertilization. It will retain most of its leaves through the winter as it is hardy to 5 degrees F.
Texas purple sage’s native range is from Northern Mexico through the Rio Grande Plains and Trans-Pecos, and somewhat in the Western Edwards Plateau into New Mexico. Growing “in the wild,” you’ll see it on rocky caliche slopes and stony, calcareous soils. It has been used as an herbal tea to treat chills and fever, to provide forage for cattle, and nesting places for birds.
In 2005, the 79th Legislature designated the Texas purple sage as the official State Native Shrub of Texas. One of the declarations in the resolution states: “Texas purple sage has been described as a plant that can face droughts, freezes, high winds, salt spray, hungry deer and blazing heat and keep right on performing beautifully, and such fortitude is a quality highly admired in the Lone Star State….”
Sounds perfect for my backyard.
Written by Marigay Black, Master Gardener
Grayson County Master Gardeners Association is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization sponsored by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. Reach us by email at email@example.com, by phone 903-813-4204, our web page graysoncountymastergardeners.net, or our Facebook group.