Journal of Plant Research

, Volume 124, Issue 5, pp 593–600 | Cite as

Evolution and origins of the Mazatec hallucinogenic sage, Salvia divinorum (Lamiaceae): a molecular phylogenetic approach

  • Aaron A. JenksEmail author
  • Jay B. Walker
  • Seung-Chul KimEmail author
Regular Paper


Salvia divinorum Epl. & Játiva-M. (Lamiaceae) is a potent hallucinogenic plant that is classified within Salvia subgenus Calosphace, section Dusenostachys, and hypothesized to be an interspecific hybrid. It is of ethnobotanical significance due to its employment in traditional healing ceremonies by the Mazatecs of Oaxaca, Mexico, and due to its unique pharmacology—a highly selective, non-nitrogenous, κ-opioid receptor agonist. In order to test its phylogenetic position and putative hybridity, we sequenced multiple DNA regions (ITS, trnL-trnF, and psbA-trnH) of 52 species—representing the major lineages of subgenus Calosphace—and six accessions of S. divinorum. Our molecular phylogenetic results suggest that S. divinorum should not be classified within Dusenostachys and that it is not a hybrid. Additionally, we determine that the closest known relative of this psychoactive Mexican sage is S. venulosa, a rare endemic of Colombia.


Diviner’s sage Hallucinogens Medicinal plants Psychoactive plants Salvia divinorum Ska Maria Pastora 



This paper represents a portion of a PhD dissertation submitted to the University of California at Riverside for partial fulfillment of the first author’s doctoral degree. The author’s thank D. Siebert, J. G. Waines, J. T. Columbus, A. Sanders and P. Lubinsky for technical advise and the following herbaria for loaning specimens: University of California, Riverside Herbarium (UCR), University of Wisconsin, Madison Herbarium (WIS), Missouri Botanic Garden (MO), Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, Germany (MJG), and Field Museum of Natural History (FIELD). We also thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions on the earlier version of this paper. This project was supported in part by grants from The Botanical Society of America, and the Pacific Rim Association of the University of California.

Supplementary material

10265_2010_394_MOESM1_ESM.doc (51 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 51 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Botanical Society of Japan and Springer 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Santa RosaUSA
  2. 2.SapulpaUSA
  3. 3.Department of Biological SciencesSungkyunkwan UniversitySuwonKorea

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