Chia (Salvia columbariae)

Family: Lamiaceae

A member of the Mint family, Chia has mostly basal, dark-green and pinnate leaves, which show clearly in the accompanying photos. The flowers are deep blue to purple, with spine-tipped bracts.

Chia leaves close up, below:

Like most members of the mint family, it has square stems. These, when placed in water, form "sticky, mucilaginous mass", and Native Americans used the seeds for food "and to make mucilaginous poultices and certain beverages" (Epple, cited on Wildflower page, p. 217). The Tarahumaras of northern Mexico once used chia in a drink known as iskiate. A book published by the University of Arizona Press (Ayerza, Richard & Wayne Coates, Chia: Rediscovering a forgotten crop of the Aztecs (2005) argues that Chia seeds are one of the best sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, and recommends concerted efforts to spread the consumption of parts of this plant throughout the world.