The project integrates molecular data, morphological data, and fieldwork to address the genealogical history, biogeography, and floral evolution of one of the largest genera of plants in the world (the sages of the genus Salvia). Despite the enormous popularity of sages in the horticultural community, little is known about the evolutionary history of the genus. This project has already completed a global survey of all major groups of Salvia and closely related genera, and will use the NSF DDIG funding to investigate the origins and diversification patterns of all major lineages of Salvia in the New World.
The group of plants included in this study contains over 100 species of commercially available horticultural plants. The results will bear significant impact on hybridization studies and nomenclature, integral to the horticultural industry. Due to the enormous horticultural interest in Salvia species, the opportunity exists to disseminate botanical systematic knowledge to the non-systematic community. This is being done through Salvia Research Network website (www.botany.wisc.edu/salvia/). This site includes information on phylogenies, classifications, nomenclature, floristics, digital images, data sets, contacts, etc. that promote close collaboration among Salvia researchers and provide a venue through which to disseminate the results of our research to horticulturists and hobbyists.