This is an odd-looking plant, but is often quite handsome. The stout purplish stem, from six inches to over two feet tall, springs from a cluster of rough, very dull green leaves, sometimes so wrinkled as to look like the back of a toad, and bears a series of round, button-like heads, consisting of numerous, purple, bristly bracts, ornamented with small, very bright blue flowers. Though the flowers are small, the contrast between their vivid coloring and the purple or wine-colored bracts is very effective. The seeds have been for centuries an important food product among the aborigines and this plant in ancient Mexico was cultivated as regularly as corn, the meal being extremely nourishing and resembling linseed meal. The Mission Fathers used it for poultices and it is still in demand among the Spanish-Californians. This grows on dry hillsides and smells of sage.
Chia- Salvi columbariae. MINT FAMILY. Labiatae.
There are several kinds of Trichostema, all North American; herbs, sometimes shrubby; leaves toothless, or with wavy margins; flowers in clusters; calyx usually with five unequal lobes; corolla with a long slender tube and five oblong lobes nearly alike, forming in bud a roundish ball, enclosing the coiled stamens; stamens four, the upper pair longer, with very long, blue or purple filaments, conspicuously protruding from the corolla, suggesting both the Greek name, meaning "hair-like stamens," and the common name, Blue-curls.