This section is from the book "The Botanical Magazine; Or, Flower-Garden Displayed", by William Curtis. Also available from Amazon: The Botanical Magazine; or, Flower-Garden Displayed, Volume I.
Class And Order.
Cor. inaequalis. Filamenta transverse pedicello affixa.
SALVIA aurea foliis subrotundis integerrimis, basi truncatis dentatis. Linn. Syst. Veget. ed. 14. Murr. p. 71. Ait. Hort. Kew. V. 1. p. 45.
SALVIA Africana frutescens folio subrotundo glauco, flore magno aureo. Comm. Hort. 2. 183. t. 92.
Such as are delighted with the singular rather than the beautiful appearances of plants, cannot fail of ranking the present species of sage among their favourites.
It been called aurea, from the colour of its flowers, ferruginea would perhaps have been more expressive of them; when they first open indeed they are of a yellow colour, but they quickly and constantly become of the colour of rusty iron.
The leaves are nearly round, and have a pleasing silvery hue: a few of them only, and those chiefly at the extremities of the young shoots, are of the form described by Linnaeus in his specific character of the plant, and hence Commelin's description (vid. Syn.) is to be preferred, as leading us with more certainty to a knowledge of the plant; the colour of the leaves, the colour and unusual magnitude of the blossoms, are indisputably the most striking features of the species, and therefore to be resorted to: for my own part, as a friend to the advancement of the science, rather than as the follower of that great man, I see no good reason why colour should not in many instances, especially where expressive characters are wanting, form a part of the specific character in plants, as well as in animals: we are told indeed of its inconstancy. I would ask - who ever saw the colour of the leaves or blossoms of the present plant to vary? and, on the contrary, who ever saw its leaves constant in their form?
The Salvia aurea is a native of the Cape, and was cultivated by Mr. Miller in 1731, it is a hardy greenhouse plant, is readily propagated by cuttings, and flowers from May to November.
If suffered to grow, it will become a shrub of the height of six or seven feet.