Clones of Salvia divinorum

The Salvia divinorum Research and Information Center
is created and maintained by
Daniel Siebert

Most of the clones described below can be obtained from: The Sage Wisdom Salvia Shop.

Seed raised clones:

Seed raised plants are valuable because they are genetically unique. Unfortunately, Salvia divinorum seeds are extremely rare. For reasons not entirely understood, this plant almost never sets seed. Botanists have never found seed on plants growing in their native habitat. The first published description of S. divinorum seed was that of L.J. Valdés. He had managed to produce seed by carefully hand-pollinating greenhouse grown plants; unfortunately those seed failed to germinate. A.S. Reisfield was the next person to report successful seed production. Many of the seeds he obtained germinated, but the plants were not maintained.

In 1994, while examining a collection of S. divinorum (Wasson/Hofmann clone) growing at a friend's property in Hawaii, I was fortunate enough to discover seventy seeds. This is first documented instance in which S. divinorum plants are known to have spontaneously produced seed. This was the only time that seed had been found on these particular plants. They had been checked in previous years and have been checked many times since. It is unclear why they only produced seed this one particular year. Despite the most careful attention, only thirteen seeds germinated. The seedlings all started out growing very weakly and seven died off at a very small size. The six remaining plants are now growing well.

Recently, in 1999 a commercial S. divinorum grower in Hawaii discovered seeds on his plants. Although he had been experimenting with hand-pollination, most of the seed he obtained came from plants that he had not hand-pollinated. Apparently they had been pollinated by insects. Many of the seeds germinated, but many of the seedlings were weak and did not survive. The ones that did are growing normally. Two of these were raised by myself from seed that the grower kindly shared with me.

The following is a list of the seed-raised clones in my collection:

Seed parents = "Wasson/Hofmann"
Echo (DS9401 - Siebert 1994 seed raised clone)
Oracle (DS9402 - Siebert 1994 seed raised clone)
Paradox (DS9403 - Siebert 1994 seed raised clone)
Enigma (DS9404 - Siebert 1994 seed raised clone)
Mystique (DS9405 - Siebert 1994 seed raised clone)
Sacred Spring (DS9408 - Siebert 1994 seed raised clone)

Seed parents = "Palatable"
Hanau (DS9903 - Siebert 1999 seed raised clone)
Maka (DS9904 - Siebert 1999 seed raised clone)

Vegetatively propagated clones - collected in the Sierra Mazateca:

Wasson/Hofmann (Collected by Wasson and Hofmann)
Cerro Quemado (Collected by L.J. Valdés III)
Palatable (Collected by Bret Blosser)
Bret Blosser #2 (Collected by Bret Blosser)
Catalina (KH96 - Collected by Kathleen Harrison July 1996)
Delicious (DS9901 - Collected by Daniel Siebert February 11, 1999)
Julieta (DS9902 - Collected by Daniel Siebert February 14, 1999)

Distinctive clones:

Luna (syn. DS9401L)
This is an unusual clone that I discovered growing in a patch of the "Wasson/Hofmann" clone. It is either a sport of the "Wasson/Hofmann" clone that sprung up from the base of the surrounding plants, or it may have originated from a seed that fell from the neighboring plants. Given that it is extremely rare for Salvia divinorum to produce viable seeds and that any seedlings produced tend to be very weak, it is most likely that this is actually a sport, possibly some type of polyploid. The leaf morphology is distinctive. The margin is more deeply serrated and the leaf is more roundish than ovate. Go here to see a picture of Luna.

This is a variegated clone that was discovered by "Sage Student" in 1999. It originated as a sport on an otherwise normal specimen in his collection. The clonal identity of the plant that produced it is unknown because it was purchased from a source that did not identify it (most likely it was the Wasson/Hofmann clone). The cause of the variegation has not been positively identified. It is probably a chimera (an individual containing genetically different tissues) that resulted from a somatic mutation. It does not appear to be caused by a pathological condition. The leaves are marked with patchy white or pale-green areas and the stems have white striping. The amount of variegation is quite variable: some leaves are heavily variegated, while others appear completely normal. Growth of the pigment-free cells is stunted, causing leaf and stem deformations. "Sage Student" describes how this clone was nearly destroyed soon after it was discovered: The original plant was nearly destroyed, because when I first noticed it I thought it was diseased. Fearing it would infect my healthy Salvia plants, I hurled it into the woods to die far away from my healthy Salvias. But I then had second thoughts about what I had done, and realized it might not be sick after all but could be a rare mutant worth saving. I had to crawl on hands and knees through poison ivy to retrieve it!

This is one of the seed-raised clones mentioned above. Of all of the seed-raised clones I have seen, this is the only one that is visibly unique. The leaves have a slightly mottled appearance.

Lost clones:

Valdés collected three different clones. unfortunately due to labeling mix-ups and some plant losses the only one that we are certain still exists in cultivation is his collection from Cerro Quemado (see above).

A.S. Reisfield, author of "The Botany of Salvia divinorum", collected several specimens in Oaxaca, and also managed to produce viable seed from which he raised several plants. These plants were left in the care of the horticultural staff at "The University of Wisconsin" were they all died off. It is always possible that someone out there propagated some of these lost clones in which case they may still exist in some private collections. Perhaps some of these will show up again in the future.

Qualities of different clones:

John Grubber did HPLC on "Luna" (syn. Siebert 9401) and 5 of the 6 seed raised clones. Only one sample of each was looked at, so the results are statistically rather meaningless. It is clear that the salvinorin A concentration of a given clone can vary quite a bit. Grubber checked 4 samples of "Wasson/Hofmann" and reported the following salvinorin A concentrations: 1.93, 2.75, 2.86 & 3.87 mg/g. He also checked 4 of "Palatable" and reported the following salvinorin A concentrations: 0.86, 0.89, 2.33 & 2.85 mg/g.

The bitter taste of S. divinorum is primarily due to the presence of water soluble tannins in the leaves. Apparently the concentration of the bitter elements varies within the plant in much the same way as does salvinorin A. Therefore, any particular clone can vary in degree of bitterness. I have observed that my plants produce significantly less-bitter leaves during the spring, when they are growing particularly rapidly. I have not noticed any significant difference in bitterness between clones, including the so called "Palatable" clone. Note: The clone named "Delicious" describes a delicious experience, not a delicious flavor.

Some clones do seem to grow more vigorously than others. Some particularly strong growers are: "Wasson/Hofmann", "Palatable", "Luna", "Delicious", "Catalina", "Cerro Quemado", and "Sacred Spring."

The appearance of any given clone will vary somewhat in response to environmental factors including: humidity, soil nutrition and light levels. The leaves can vary from yellowish to dark green and will occasionally develop purple areas. The size and thickness of the leaves as well as the general vigor of the plant will also vary.

Taking into accout variations in appearance brought on by environmental or cultural conditions, most clones of S. divinorum look identical and therefore cannot be visually distinguished from one another. The distinctive clones described above are the only exceptions that I am aware of.

The seed raised plants are important in that they are genetically unique—a quality which may be very important in future genetic studies and breeding experiments.