Are Any Salvias Poisonous? Everything You Need to Know

Are any salvias poisonous? This is a question that often comes up when discussing the different types of this beautiful plant. Salvias are a popular addition to many gardens due to their pretty blooms, hardiness, and diversity. They come in a wide range of colors and shapes, and their leaves are often fragrant and aromatic. However, despite their beauty and popularity, it is important to know that not all salvias are safe to handle or consume.

In this article, we will take a closer look at salvias and explore their toxicity levels. While some salvias are perfectly safe, others contain natural toxins that can be harmful to humans and animals alike. We will discuss the types of salvias that are toxic, how to identify them, and what to do if you come into contact with them. Whether you’re an avid gardener, nature enthusiast, or just curious about these fascinating plants, this article will provide you with helpful information about the potential dangers of salvias. So, let’s dive in and discover the truth about these colorful and intriguing plants!

Common Species of Salvias

Salvias are a genus of flowering plants with over 900 species. They belong to the mint family, Lamiaceae, and are known for their fragrant leaves and wide range of flower colors. While most salvias are not toxic, some species contain chemical compounds that can be harmful if ingested in large quantities. Here are some of the most common species of salvias:

  • Salvia officinalis: Also known as common sage, this species is widely used as a culinary herb. Its leaves contain essential oils and antioxidants that are beneficial for health. However, consuming large amounts of sage can cause digestive problems, seizures, and even coma.
  • Salvia divinorum: This species is native to Mexico and is known for its psychoactive effects. Its leaves contain salvinorin A, a chemical compound that can induce vivid hallucinations and altered states of consciousness. Salvia divinorum is not considered toxic, but its use can be dangerous due to the risk of accidents or self-injury.
  • Salvia coccinea: Also called scarlet sage, this species is a popular ornamental plant. It produces bright red flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Scarlet sage is not toxic, but its leaves and stems can irritate the skin and mucous membranes.

Other common species of salvias include Salvia nemorosa, Salvia viridis, Salvia splendens, and Salvia leucantha. These plants are generally safe to handle and use in gardens, but it’s important to be aware of their potential effects if ingested or exposed to in large amounts.

If you are unsure about the toxicity of a specific species of salvias, consult with a botanist or a healthcare professional before using it. It’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to your health and safety.

Poisonous vs. Non-Poisonous Salvias

When it comes to salvias, there are some that are considered poisonous and others that are not. It is important to know the difference in order to avoid any adverse effects from consuming or handling these plants.

  • Poisonous salvias: There are several species of salvias that are toxic to humans and animals. These include:
    • S. divinorum: also known as diviner’s sage, is a hallucinogen and can cause delirium, paranoia, and other psychiatric symptoms.
    • S. coccinea: also known as blood sage, can cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and respiratory problems if ingested in large quantities.
    • S. officinalis: also known as common sage, contains a compound called thujone which can cause seizures, liver damage, and even death if ingested in large doses.
  • Non-poisonous salvias: Most salvias are safe to consume and handle, and have been used for medicinal and culinary purposes for centuries. Some of these include:
    • S. elegans: also known as pineapple sage, is used to flavor teas, desserts, and other dishes.
    • S. nemorosa: also known as woodland sage, has medicinal properties and can be used to treat sore throats, colds, and fevers.
    • S. pratensis: also known as meadow sage, is used in herbal remedies to treat digestive and respiratory problems.

If you are unsure whether a particular species of salvia is poisonous, it is best to err on the side of caution and avoid contact with the plant. It is also important to note that some salvias can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals, so if you experience any symptoms such as itching, swelling, or difficulty breathing after coming into contact with the plant, seek medical attention immediately.

Below is a table that summarizes the toxic and non-toxic salvias:

Poisonous Salvias Non-Poisonous Salvias
S. divinorum (diviner’s sage) S. elegans (pineapple sage)
S. coccinea (blood sage) S. nemorosa (woodland sage)
S. officinalis (common sage) S. pratensis (meadow sage)

It is important to do your research when it comes to handling or ingesting any plant, including salvias. By knowing which species are poisonous and which are not, you can avoid any potential harm and enjoy the benefits of these beautiful and useful plants.

Chemical properties of poisonous salvia species

Salvias, which belong to the mint family, are known for their pleasant aroma and medicinal benefits. However, not all salvias are safe for human consumption, and some species contain toxic compounds that can lead to adverse health effects. In this article, we will discuss the chemical properties of poisonous salvia species.

  • Salvia divinorum
  • Salvia officinalis
  • Salvia splendens

Let’s take a closer look at the chemical properties of these toxic salvia species:

Salvia divinorum

Salvia divinorum, also known as diviner’s sage, is a hallucinogenic plant native to Mexico. The active ingredient in this plant is salvinorin A, which acts on the kappa-opioid receptor in the brain. Salvinorin A is the most potent naturally-occurring hallucinogen known to science, and its effects can be unpredictable and long-lasting.

Salvia officinalis

Salvia officinalis, or common sage, is a perennial herb commonly used in cooking and herbal medicine. While sage is generally considered safe when used in culinary amounts, consuming large amounts of sage oil or extracts can be toxic. Sage plants contain thujone, a chemical compound that can cause seizures, tremors, and even death at high doses.

Salvia splendens

Salvia splendens, or scarlet sage, is an ornamental plant commonly grown in gardens and parks. Like other members of the mint family, it contains essential oils that give it its characteristic scent. However, these oils also contain camphor and other volatile compounds that can cause respiratory distress and other symptoms when ingested or inhaled in large amounts.

It’s essential to keep in mind that not all salvias are toxic, and many species have medicinal properties that can benefit human health. However, it’s important to exercise caution when consuming or handling any plant, particularly if you’re not familiar with its properties. If you suspect that you or someone else has ingested a poisonous plant, seek medical attention right away.

Salvia Species Toxic Compound(s)
Salvia divinorum Salvinorin A
Salvia officinalis Thujone
Salvia splendens Camphor and other volatile compounds

Understanding the chemical properties of poisonous salvia species can help you identify potentially hazardous plants and take appropriate precautions. Whenever possible, consult with a qualified herbalist or healthcare provider before consuming or using any herbal remedy.

Dangers of consuming poisonous salvias

While most species of salvias are considered safe for human consumption, there are certain varieties that contain toxic compounds that can cause harm if ingested. Here are some of the dangers associated with consuming poisonous salvias:

  • Intoxication: Some salvias, such as Salvia divinorum, contain psychoactive compounds that can cause hallucinations and altered states of consciousness. These effects may be intensified if the plant is ingested in large quantities or combined with other drugs or alcohol.
  • Respiratory issues: Salvias that contain camphor or thujone can cause respiratory problems, such as difficulty breathing, wheezing, and coughing. This can be particularly problematic for individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as asthma or emphysema.
  • Gastrointestinal distress: Ingesting certain species of salvias can lead to digestive issues, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. These symptoms may be accompanied by abdominal pain, cramping, and bloating.

If you suspect that you or someone you know may have ingested a poisonous variety of sage, seek medical attention right away. Symptoms of poisoning may include dizziness, confusion, seizures, and loss of consciousness.

Here is a table that outlines some of the most poisonous species of salvias:

Species Toxic compounds Symptoms
Salvia divinorum Salvinorin A Psychoactive effects, respiratory distress, gastrointestinal issues
Salvia officinalis Thujone Respiratory distress, gastrointestinal issues, seizures
Salvia miltiorrhiza Dan shen ketone Respiratory distress, gastrointestinal issues

It is important to note that the vast majority of salvias are safe for human consumption, and many species have been used medicinally for centuries. However, it is always a good idea to research the specific variety of sage before ingesting it, and to exercise caution when consuming any new herb or supplement.

Symptoms of Salvia Poisoning

While salvias are generally safe plants, certain species may cause mild to severe symptoms of poisoning when consumed or ingested. Symptoms may vary depending on the species, but some general symptoms of salvia poisoning include:

  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Seizures (in severe cases)

Symptoms may start within a few minutes to a few hours of ingesting or consuming salvia leaves, stems, or seeds. In most cases, symptoms typically subside within a few hours or days, but severe cases of poisoning may require immediate medical attention.

If you or someone you know experiences any of the above symptoms after consuming or ingesting salvia, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

Here’s a table showing some common salvias and their potential toxicity:

Salvia divinorum Dizziness, confusion, hallucinations, agitation, difficulty in controlling movements, loss of coordination
Salvia lyrata Upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea
Salvia officinalis Upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea (in excessive amounts)
Salvia splendens Upset stomach, headaches, dizziness (in excessive amounts)

It’s important to note that while salvia divinorum is the most widely known for its potential toxicity, consumption or ingestion of any salvia species should be taken seriously as it may cause discomfort or adverse side effects in some individuals.

Medical treatments for salvia poisoning

While salvia divinorum is generally considered safe, there have been reported cases of individuals experiencing adverse reactions after using the plant. In some cases, salvia poisoning can occur, leading to a range of symptoms that can vary in severity. If you or someone you know has been exposed to salvia and is experiencing symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention right away.

  • Activated charcoal: If someone has ingested salvia, they may be given activated charcoal to help absorb the drug and prevent it from further entering the system.
  • Fluids: Drinking fluids can help flush the drug out of the system more quickly.
  • Sedatives: In some cases, individuals may be given a sedative to help calm them down and reduce the severity of their symptoms.

Prevention and harm reduction

The best way to prevent salvia poisoning is to avoid using the plant altogether. If you do choose to use salvia, it’s important to do so in a safe and responsible manner. One way to reduce harm is to start with a very small dose and gradually work your way up. It’s also important to use salvia in a safe and comfortable environment, with someone you trust present to keep an eye on you. Finally, never drive or operate heavy machinery while under the influence of salvia.


While salvia can be a powerful and transformative plant, it’s important to use it responsibly and with caution. If you do experience symptoms of salvia poisoning, seek medical attention right away. With the right care and treatment, most individuals who experience adverse reactions to salvia are able to make a full recovery.

Preventative measures for salvia poisoning

Salvias, also known as sages, are beautiful plants that are commonly grown in gardens for their fragrant leaves and colorful flowers. While most salvias are not poisonous to humans or animals, there are some species that can cause toxicity if ingested. It is important to educate yourself on the potential dangers of these plants and take measures to prevent accidental poisoning.

  • Identify poisonous species: The first step in preventing salvia poisoning is to identify the species of salvia in your garden. Some species that are known to cause toxicity include Salvia divinorum, Salvia elegans, and Salvia splendens. If you are unsure about the species, consult a gardening expert or do some research.
  • Keep salvias out of reach: If you have small children or animals, it is important to keep salvias out of their reach. Some species can be appealing to young children or pets, and they may accidentally ingest the leaves or flowers.
  • Wear gloves when handling: When pruning or handling salvias, it is recommended to wear gloves to prevent any contact with your skin. Some species can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions.

It is also important to properly dispose of any pruning or clippings from salvias to prevent accidental ingestion or contact with humans or animals.

If you suspect salvia poisoning in yourself or someone else, seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or hallucinations. It is always better to take preventative measures and educate yourself on the potential dangers of any plants in your garden.

What to do in case of salvia poisoning

If you suspect salvia poisoning, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness or confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Rapid heartbeat or high blood pressure
  • Difficulty breathing

While most cases of salvia poisoning can be treated with supportive care, severe cases may require hospitalization. It is always important to err on the side of caution and seek medical attention if you or someone else has ingested a poisonous species of salvia.

List of poisonous salvias

Species Toxicity
Salvia divinorum Can cause hallucinations and other psychological effects
Salvia elegans Can cause gastrointestinal distress
Salvia splendens Can cause vomiting and confusion

While these species are known to cause toxicity, it is important to remember that not all salvias are poisonous. Always do your research and identify the species in your garden to ensure the safety of yourself, your family, and your pets.

Are any salvias poisonous? FAQs

Q: Are all salvias safe for human and pet consumption?
A: No, some salvias like Salvia divinorum (also known as Diviner’s Sage) can be toxic and dangerous if consumed improperly.

Q: How do I know if a salvia plant is poisonous?
A: It is important to research specific species and varieties of salvias before consuming or handling them. Some key indicators of toxicity include the plant’s physical characteristics, location, and known effects on humans.

Q: Can salvias cause allergic reactions?
A: Yes, just like with any plant, some people may have an allergic reaction to salvias. Symptoms can include skin irritation, nausea, and respiratory issues.

Q: What should I do if I suspect I have ingested a poisonous salvia?
A: Seek medical attention immediately and bring a sample of the plant if possible to help with identification and treatment.

Q: Can salvias be dangerous for pets?
A: Yes, some salvias can be toxic to pets if ingested. It is important to research the specific species and keep them out of reach of animals.

Q: Can salvias be used for medicinal purposes?
A: Yes, many salvias have been used for centuries in traditional medicine for their various therapeutic properties.

Q: How can I safely enjoy salvias in my garden or home?
A: Research specific species and varieties before purchasing and planting, and always handle with caution and care.

Closing Thoughts

We hope that these FAQs have provided you with valuable information about the safety and potential dangers of salvias. Remember to always do your research and exercise caution when handling or consuming any plant. Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you again soon for more gardening tips and insights.